TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Safeguard Defenders, a Madrid-based human rights non-governmental organization, has opened a new office in Taiwan.
In an announcement published on Monday (May 17), Safeguard Defenders wrote that the Taipei office is its first in Asia. “With our focus on the decline in human rights in China and other authoritarian states in the region, Taiwan was an obvious choice because of its open society and geographic proximity.”
It added that as a “progressive democracy” that emerged from an authoritarian past, the country “has now become a popular base for civil society and media, particularly as Hong Kong’s human rights situation rapidly deteriorates under Beijing’s control.”
Last November, the NGO released a report alleging that China “hunted” over 600 Taiwanese around the world between 2016 and 2019, extraditing or deporting them from countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe to China. In the coming months, Safeguard Defenders expects to release more reports covering human rights issues in China, including the practice of sending political prisoners to psychiatric hospitals, human rights violations in the name of COVID-19, and the weaponization of exit bans.
Safeguard Defenders was founded in late 2016 after its predecessor, China Action, closed down due to being targeted by Chinese authorities, according to its website. Working with local partners such as teachers, lawyers, independent media, and civil society organizations, the NGO undertakes and supports activities that promote protection of basic rights, the rule of law, and human rights defenders “in some of the most hostile environments in Asia.”