TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan’s Constitutional Court on Friday upheld several key provisions in two laws restricting fishing, in a reversal of the island’s laws. Indigenous rights movement.
Although the court struck down some parts of the laws – including the rule requiring hunters to apply for permits – it refused to completely reform the restrictions, stating that the indigenous hunting culture must be balanced with the need to protect the environment and wildlife.
“The Constitution recognizes the protection of the right of indigenous peoples to practice their hunting culture and the environment and the environment,” Chief Justice Hsu Zong Lee said Friday. “Both fundamental values are equally important.”
Conservationists and animal rights activists welcomed the decision. In March, 57 animal rights groups in Taiwan released a Joint statementOn the pretext that protecting fishing culture cannot be compared to guaranteeing the right to fish freely.
“Animal creatures and humans are a community with a shared destiny,” several animal groups said in a joint statement on Friday.
The court ruling centers on a 2013 case against a member of the Bonnon Group, one of 16 officially recognized indigenous groups in Taiwan who have been convicted of using an illegal hunting rifle to kill protected species.
The 62-year-old, Talum Saqloman, also known as Tama Talum, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. He appealed the decision, arguing that he followed tribal hunting customs for his sick mother, and the court suspended the ruling in 2017.
But Mr. Talom continued to fight the conviction, taking the case to the Constitutional Court, which reviewed whether the laws unfairly violated the indigenous peoples’ rights to stalking. Activists noted that indigenous people in Taiwan hunted and hunted without much interference for thousands of years until settlers from mainland China and elsewhere began arriving in the 17th century.
Under current laws, natives are allowed to conduct small hunters but only with homemade rifles and traps, which are sometimes unsafe. They must obtain prior approval and are prohibited from killing protected species, including leopard cats and formosan black bears.
After the announcement, Indigenous rights activists outside of court expressed disappointment.
“Hunters are innocent!” They shouted. “Give us back our freedom to fish!”
It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Blum would be required, under Friday’s ruling, to serve his sentence. But shortly after the announcement, Mister Talom vowed to continue hunting.
“Hunting is an indigenous culture,” Mr. Talom told reporters on Friday from his home in the eastern city of Taitung. “How do you eliminate our fishing culture?”
Taiwan has 580,000 indigenous people, or about 2 percent of the population of 23 million, the majority of whom are Han.
The movement to address discrimination and other long-standing socio-economic problems faced by indigenous people in Taiwan emerged in the 1990s, as part of a broader international campaign for indigenous rights. Since then, these grounds have gained a place as the island increasingly seeks to define an identity distinct from mainland China.
In 2016, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen Offer an official apology For indigenous peoples over centuries of “pain and abuse,” she would take concrete steps to correct a history of injustice.
The rights movement has recently focused on the case of Mr. Talom, which many activists see as linked to broader issues of indigenous land rights and self-government. They say government laws restricting hunting are unnecessary because the indigenous hunting culture is already restricted by an intricate web of taboos and rituals.
Experts said Friday’s ruling reflects the government’s lack of understanding of indigenous culture.
“This interpretation restricts the right of indigenous people to hunt from the cultural perspective of non-indigenous peoples,” said Ui Mina, professor of indigenous law at Donghua National University in the eastern city of Hualien in an interview.
Taiwan’s Supreme Court rejected Mr. Talum’s appeal in 2015, but in 2017 granted an exceptional appeal to refer the case for constitutional interpretation. Mr. Blum did not serve any prison terms.
“This result was somewhat unexpected,” said Hsieh Meng Yue, Mr. Talom’s attorney He said In an interview after the court ruling was announced. “We thought the Indigenous rights movement would continue to move forward – we didn’t think there would be such a setback all of a sudden.”