The founder of the US-based Human Rights Action Center (HRAC), Jack Healey, and several foreign rights activists are scheduled to visit former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at Taipei Prison on Saturday next week, amid grave concerns over the conditions in which Chen is being incarcerated as well as his reportedly declining health.
Two members of the human rights center, including Hans Wahl and Harreld Dinkins, are due to accompany Healey to better grasp Chen’s prison treatment as well as his state of health.
The scheduled visit is part of a follow-up effort by the team calling for the protection of Chen’s basic human rights after an open letter penned by Healey in July that was addressed to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and which appealed for improved imprisonment conditions and healthcare provision for the former president.
“Universal human rights standards should remain constant, even for those who are incarcerated,” Healey wrote in the letter.
Chen is currently serving a 17-and-a-half-year prison term for corruption at Taipei Prison. He has complained about physical ailments, including chest pains, and has reportedly developed severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression after being held for an extended period.
In addition to the planned prison visit, the human rights team is scheduled to rendezvous with officials from the American Institute in Taiwan, high-ranking members of the Democratic Progressive Party, officials from the Ma administration, Chen’s medical and legal team as well as meetings with grassroots human rights advocates in Taiwan, Chen’s office has said.
A long-time rights advocate, Healey set up the HRAC in 1994 — an independent group that has relentlessly campaigned around human right missions globally including work it has done in Bosnia and Myanmar.