TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of Taiwanese residing in Norway plans to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights after their nationality rectification case was rejected by the Norwegian Supreme Court.
The Taiwanese in Norway Nationality Rectification Campaign on Saturday (Nov. 14) released a statement on Facebook saying the Supreme Court had rejected its case "for no reason" as well as ignored the group’s request to appear in court and their right to a fair hearing. In response, the group stated that it plans to appeal the case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), of which Norway is a signatory.
According to ECHR procedures, the plaintiff may appeal to the court only after it has exhausted all “domestic remedies.” Plaintiffs must submit an application to the court to the court within six months of a decision from the Supreme Court of the relevant country.
The Taiwanese group said it will seek assistance from lawyers in other European countries who specialize in human rights law. The group first sued the Norwegian government last August for changing their nationality from Taiwan to China on their residency permits.
According to a Taiwanese lawyer working in the Nordic country, government authorities began listing their nationality to “China” in 2010, prompting the attorney to launch a movement urging the Norwegian government to correct the mistake. Despite repeated protests against the name change, the lawyer said the Norwegian government failed to respond, which angered many Taiwanese living and studying in the country and resulted in the current lawsuit.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on Sunday (Nov. 15) that the Norwegian government had incorrectly labeled Taiwanese as "Chinese," which constitutes a violation of human rights. The ministry added that it had expressed regret upon hearing the Norwegian court had rejected the Taiwanese group’s complaint on the grounds of there being "no substantial damage" to their well-being.
In addition, MOFA noted that during the litigation process, the Norwegian court had not given the Taiwanese group the opportunity to appear in court. The ministry said that Taiwan’s representative to Sweden (also in charge of Norwegian affairs) has been instructed to lodge a protest with the Norwegian government immediately.
MOFA reiterated that “Taiwan is Taiwan, not part of the People’s Republic of China.” It emphasized that Norway’s mislabeling of Taiwanese nationality is an important human rights issue and that it will continue to assist Taiwanese in fighting for their rights.