Tama Talum, an indigenous person of the Bunun tribe, was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment in Taitung for violating the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act (槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例) and the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法) when he hunted a goat and a deer with a firearm to feed his elderly mother. He was scheduled to report to prison yesterday but reports indicate he has not done so.
The case has spurred debates in Taiwan about indigenous hunting rights and indigenous rights in general and their lack of protection under current Taiwanese law. Scott Simon of the University of Ottawa provides a good summary of the situation, and I would just add that the current laws and this conviction probably violate certain provisions (such as the right of self-determination) of the ICCPR and ICESCR. The covenants may be more legally persuasive since they are binding domestic Taiwanese law unlike most other international human rights instruments. Professor Simon also started a petition that makes the following demands:
1. That Prosecutor-General Yen Da-Ho file an extraordinary appeal to the Supreme Court on behalf of Wang Guang-Lu;
2. That President Ma Ying-jeou pardon Wang Guang-Lu;
3. That the Legislative Yuan immediately revise the relevant laws on weapons and hunting to legalize indigenous hunting;
4. That the Council on Indigenous Peoples create programs of capacity building so that indigenous communities can effectively define and manage their own hunting and trapping territories;
5. That the Council of Indigenous Peoples make available a human rights report on the indigenous rights situation, such as those prepared for the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.
The first demand is already moot, as Yen Da-ho filed an extraordinary appeal yesterday that, among other things, challenged the narrow interpretation of ‘self-made’ by the district court in finding that Tama Talum’s firearm was not ‘self-made’ and therefore violated the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act. Do read up on the case and hopefully you will be persuaded to sign the petition.