by N. Peter Kramer
Taiwan is the only ‘free’ country in Asia according to the People Power Under Attack 2020 report released last week by Johannesburg headquartered Civicus, a global civil society alliance comprising organisations spanning local and international levels. According to the report, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage in May 2019 due to the joint efforts of the government and civic actors. It is also staged a major pride parade in June, demonstrating tremendous progress in Asia, where bisexual, gay and transgender groups still face serious discrimination.
In addition, Taiwan established a National Human Rights Commission in August, a milestone described by Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen as part of government actions to promote and protect human rights and fulfil its commitments to meeting the Paris Principles. The report also identified areas of concern for Taiwan, where reforms are required. These include laws combating misinformation and governing people’s rights to hold peaceful assemblies.
Among the 196 countries and territories surveyed based on fundamental freedoms of association, expression and peaceful assembly, only 42 are rated ‘open’, including Canada, Switzerland and EU memberstates as Germany, Scandinavian countries, Portugal and Ireland. A total of 40 countries, including Australia, UK and EU memberstates as France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Poland are rated ‘narrowed’. While 47 countries are rated ‘obstructed’, 44 ‘repressed’ and 23 ‘closed’.
According to the report, 87% of the world’s population now lives in the 114 countries rated closed, repressed or obstructed, while over a quarter live in countries like China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, with the worst rating closed.