Since the civil society has already submitted several documents, including Shadow Report 2016, Shadow Report of the Concluding Observation and Recommendation, Response to the List of Issues… so we will only try to reemphasize the following points in 5 minutes, and hope we can save more time for interaction or give the floor to the grassroot organizations working in specific communities. Or maybe we can discuss and confirm with the possible Concluding Observations and Recommendations.
The issues of “Urban Land Consolidation” should also be concerned. (Shadow Report 2016 on ICESCR Paragraph 219-223) Just as the problem of eviction of “Urban Renewal” and “Land Expropriation(especially Zone Expropriation)” has been noticed in the List of Issues by the Review Committee Paragraph 26, “Urban Land Consolidation” is also one important institution causing large-scale evictions in Taiwan. All theses three kinds of “comprehensive development” are equally important.
The problem of official Chinese translation of the General Comment No.4 and No. 7(Shadow Report 2016 on ICESCR Paragraph 212): limiting the implementation of housing rights.
You may know that there are more than 80 NGOs participating in the process of the State Review and the writing of Shadow Report. I want to further pointed out that there are more than 20 organization of them, which means one quarter of 80, are concerned with the right to housing, the eviction and the homeless. So if possible, hopefully that there would be more than 7 points regarding to housing rights in the Concluding Observations and Recommendations.
Overall, we earnestly request the Review Committee to make the Concluding Observations and Recommendations by pointing out the problems of each institutional or structural issues in individual points or paragraphs while also listing up the vulnerable groups or corresponding communities under eviction, to put press on the central government and local governments to amend the institutions and make up or pause the evictions at the same time .
You can see there are 22 cases listed in the summary note. And I will briefly introduce the 13 cases caused by the three ways of land development, and my comrade Ian from Taiwan Association for Human Rights will introduce the cases of informal settlements. Please note that there may be overlapping cases between the “Land Development” and the “Clearance of Informal Settlements”.
The first kind of land development is “Land Expropriation”. And there are two ways of Land Expropriation: “General Expropriation” and “Zone Expropriation”. The cases of former one is The Underground Railway Project in Tainan and Kaohsiung Fruit and Vegetable Market. In the case of The Underground Railway Project in Tainan, more than 300 household are under threat of eviction. The biggest problem is that there is no due process to confirm the “Public Interest” and “possibilities of alternative project”. And in Kaohsiung Fruit and Vegetable Market, the residents had been evicted in the last year. The expropriation was approved in 1970s, when is the authoritarian era, and there was even no Land Expropriation Act. The expropriation is enforced 40 years later, so you can find there are no immediate need of this expropriation at all.
There are several cases of the “Zone Expropriation”, which all cause large-scale eviction, and most of the evictee are peasants. There are Shezidao Expropriation in Taipei City, around 2500 households;Project Maiziyuan Expropriation Project in New Taipei City, around 1700 households; Puyu Expropriation Project in Hsinchu County, around 17000 households; Development Project of Danhai New Town (Phase 2) in New Taipei City, more than 5000 households. The above cases are in the planning process or pending due to the campaign of residents. And the National Highway No. 1 Construction plan in Taoyuan City, the government withholds the information of evictees; Taoyuan Aerotropolis in Taoyuan City, around 20000 households and also the biggest Zone Expropriation in Taiwan. These two cases are in the process of land expropriation, only one step before eviction. And also there is The Development Project of the A7 Station of the Airport MRT, which is also in the Concluding Observations and Recommendations of 2013. Though they were already evicted and only one house was kept, the eviction is still going on because the location and environment of resettlement of the evicted residents are terrible .
In the second kind of land development “Urban Renewal”, I want to emphasize the case of Sanchong Datong South Lot Urban Renewal Project. Many of the 111 households are economically disadvantaged. And now there is only one household not yet being evicted. The construction company also raise lots of lawsuits against the family. The eviction may be enforced in this year.
In the third kind of land development “Urban Land Consolidation”, there are two cases we want to point out. The first one is The Guishan Dahu Private Urban Land Consolidation Project: Now remaining 33 households; At least 10 households demolished. Most of the residents are informal settlements on national land. So although you may know that “Private Urban Land Consolidation” required 50% of consent, the residents are not seemed as legal stakeholders. This is an emergent case. The second one is Wenzizhen Public Urban Land Consolidation Project, which is initiated by the New Taipei City Government but not the private sector. In “Public Land Consolidation”, please note that most of the land are still private, the project need no consent, so that is almost like a zone expropriation. There are at least 100 households and 5000 factories under threat of eviction.
The government’s response to Huaguang Community shows that it still refuses to admit its fault, and accuses civil society of lying.
There’s no public interest involved in the eviction. Three years passed, but Huaguang Community is still a vacant land,because the urban plan is unfinished and the state is still waiting for a better price to sell the land. Ministry of Finance expects to make 500 millions to 1 billion US dollars, while it is said to cost only 7 millions to resettle all the residents.
(Hand out the photos of Yu’s family and Wu’s family) These two families are either post-war or rural-urban migrants. They lived in informal settlement without rights of land, and as a result they need the protection of covenant.
4、雖然我們理解公約保障不代表居民沒有繳租金的責任，但政府沒有說的是，他們「依法」求取的返還不當得利，在上面這戶家裡有兩個老人、一位精障者 ，他們因此背負五萬美金(50千) 的不當得利，下面這戶一位老人、一位身障者，背負四萬美金的不當得利。
Though we understand that the security of covenant doesn’t remove the obligation to pay rent, but what the government didn’t say is that the residents have to pay fines for “unjust enrichment” to the state. The Yu’s family , with two elders and one with psycho-social disability, has to pay 50,000 US dollars. The Wu’s family, with one elder and one with physical disability, has to pay 40,000 US dollars.
The government claimed that there were genuine consultaion before the eviction. In reality, the residents were threaten to move, or they would have to pay more for unjust richment.
The government claimed to resettle ten families. However, there were 200 families in total. Most people didn’t accept the resettlement due to expensive rent and remote location. The government didn’t provide each family 20,000 compensation per month, as thay claimed. In fact, only a few of the ten families which were mentioned above achieved fiance support on rent, because they moved latter.
Lawsuit is a main way of diminishing the informal settlement. There are sill over 11,000 informal settlements, and over 30,000 to 50,000 families across Taiwan.
I am the campaigner for housing rights of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights. Following the three methods of land redevelopment, I would like to emphasize the situation the informal settlements face under the current legal system. As we state in the Shadow report, these historical settlements are formed during the 1960s and 70s due to war and urban-rural migrations, and do not obtain legal status. The evictions of them are of two major kinds. The first is that related to the three methods of land redevelopment, for the residents are not considered as stakeholders in the developmental projects. Therefore, their situation is worse than the property owners. For example, the Guishan Dahu Urban Land Consolidation Project in Taoyuan City, which is reported in the Shadow report in page 96, has afflicted dozens of informal households because they have no chances to negotiate with the consolidation committee to maintain their residence.
The second, and more rampant kind of eviction of the informal settlements in Taiwan, is that caused by the activation policy of public lands. This policy is executed by National Property Administration, Ministry of Finance, and has held its sway since the 2000 because of fiscal difficulties. Under the sway of this policy, the central and local governments have formulated guidelines and principles infringing housing rights, as mentioned in the Shadow Report in page 95 and the summary notes rendered to you by the Covenants Watch. These guidelines ask the administrative agencies of the public lands, like National Universities, Government Bureaus, or even the Ministry of Justice, to file civil suits against the informal settlements, demanding for not only relocation but compensations amount to thousands of US dollars. I repeat: not only that there is no resettlement plans regarding to the residents, the administrative agencies are filing civil suits against the settlers, demanding for relocation and compensations. We regard this as a serious infringement of the general comments No. 4 and 7.
The cases listed in the summary note are those we have contacted and checked about their current status. There are many other which we simply do not have the resource to help. The process of eviction is typically like this. The residents would receive a notice of relocation without consultations. If they refuse to leave, they would be sued several months later. Resettlement plans are generally absent. Although in some cases the government claims to help to relocate the low-income households, due to the lack of public housing and the harsh low-income criteria, these plans are immaterial in practice. In the past, say before 2000, some local governments would provide the residents with some compensation at least, but nowadays even these measures are absent.
We have repeatedly asked the central and local governments, especially the National Property Administration, to amend related regulations to implement the legal security of tenure of informal settlements. Specifically, we petition the administrative agencies not to launch lawsuits before genuine consultation and adequate alternative housing are available. However, the efforts have largely failed. The officials generally do not acknowledge the right to housing, making our demands of negotiation extremely difficult. I repeat: the officials, especially those in charge of property management, do not recognize the right to housing, making the amendment of related regulations extremely difficult.
Therefore, some of the cases have already been evicted. For example, the Huaguang Community, which has been mentioned in the 2013 Concluding Observation but was demolished just one month later. There are also cases whose convictions were affirmed and may be evicted at any time. For example, the Daguan Community in New Taipei City. It is a typical informal settlement very similar to the Huaguang Community. It consists of 72 households, and is forced to leave by the Veterans Affairs Council, a central governmental agency. Another urgent case is the Guimei Grocery Store. The household who has lived there for 70 years was deprived of tenancy without consultation and clear reasons. After heated protest last year, the Maritime Port Bureau agreed to postpone the demolition for three years, but they made no commitments about housing rights protection. Yet another case is the Dagouding Community in Kaohsiung. The 33 households living there for 60 years, whose cultural activities have local prominence, are also deprived of tenancy without justifiable reasons, and are facing immediate threats of eviction.
Some cases are a bit less urgent because their lawsuits are still going on, yet it is clear that they have no chance of winning according to current legal practices. There are the Wolong Street 19 households, who were located there by the city government in 1960 for the construction of a public market. Taipei City Government filed lawsuits against the residents in 2013, and currently they are in the second instance. The Toad Mountain Community, which is mistyped as “The Huanmin New Village” in the Shadow Report, page 97, is another important case. The 60 households there are sued by National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, who agreed to resettle the residents according to the urban planning in 1999. Yet under the pressure of National Property Administration, the agreement has been ignored. A very similar case is the Shaoxing Community, sued by National Taiwan University with whom a precarious negotiation is still underway. The Liu’s family in Sanxia in the Shadow Report, page 96, are very likely to be sued by National Property Administration in the near future, although they have been living there for more than 100 years. Most of the family members plant bamboos for living, and eviction would be disastrous to their living.
All these cases are victims of the legal system where the claim of property rights overrides the claim of property rights. Recently, two groundbreaking verdicts have taken the reverse track. The first instance of the Xindian Liugongjun Residence has affirmed the resident’s superficies against the property rights of a construction company. However, we are worried that the verdict would be overthrown by the second instance.
The last case in the summary note is that of the Losheng Sanatorium, established in 1932, which still accommodates about 400 leprosy patients. They are forced to relocate to a newly built Hospital Building for the construction of the MRT Depot, which can actually be located elsewhere. The construction and eviction have drastically, sometimes even fatally changed the way of living of the patients, and they have fought for the protection of the Sanatorium for more than 10 years.