Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reply to the Open Letter on the Erosion of Justice

The Minister of Justice, Wang Ching-feng (王清峰), wrote a reply to those scholars and experts who signed the Open Letter on the Erosion of Justice in Taiwan:

As required by law, when the present and former DPP government officials were interrogated by the prosecutors, they were all informed of the charges that had been brought against them. They were also informed of their rights to retain counsel and to remain silent. After they were detained, they had the right and ability to communicate with their attorneys to seek legal assistance. None of them was held incommunicado without charges.

After they were arrested, they were immediately, within 24 hours at most, brought before judge(s) to determine whether they should be detained before trial for the crimes they were charged with. This is a standard procedure that was strictly followed by all of the prosecutors involved.

Therefore, in the cases in question, the prosecutors did not contravene the writ of habeas corpus or violate due process, justice, or the rule of law. Even the defense attorneys of the DPP officials did not accuse the prosecutors of doing what the open letter claims they did. These facts are indisputable and serve as proof of the prosecutors’ compliance with due process and the law as well as respect for the writ of habeas corpus.

The open letter further states that “the prosecutors’ offices apparently leak detrimental information to the press” with the intention of conducting a “trial by press.” The confidentiality of investigations, however, is explicitly required by our Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法). Information relating to ongoing investigations can be disclosed only by the spokespersons of prosecutor’s offices. Any prosecutor who discloses information without authorization will be internally disciplined as well as be subject to criminal prosecution.
Wang's commitment to the truth can be gleaned from the fact that she is the convener of that idiotic 319 Truth Commission into the attempted assassination of Chen Shui-bian by a Blue nutcase -- trying to prove that Chen somehow staged the whole thing. She also served on the Clean Government Committee of the KMT for several years.

Meanwhile a Federation of 155 human rights organizations around the world expressed its concern on the situation here. The international pressure on the island appears to be bearing fruit, as some of the detainees were released last week, among them Dr. Jim Lee, the former director of the Hsinchu Science Park, detained on 27 October, 2008.

Another apparent victim of prosecutors run amok spoke out this weekend on the issue of detentions in Taiwan:

Shieh Ching-jyh, a U.S.-trained rocket scientist who served as deputy minister of the Cabinet-level NSC from 2000 through May 2006, made the remarks at a year-end fundraiser organized by the New York Taiwan Center, a private Taiwanese-American pro-independence group.

Shieh was arrested May 23, 2006 and was held incommunicado for 59 days without being formally indicted as prosecutors were preparing their case against him. He was later indicted on corruption charges in December 2006 for allegedly helping a friend win a contract for a construction project in the Southern Taiwan Science Park in Tainan County to reduce vibrations that might be caused by the high speed bullet trains when they pass the park.

Prosecutors recommended a 15-year prison term plus a fine of NT$30 million for Sheih, but the Taipei District Court finally gave him an "innocence" verdit in August 2008. He has written his experience and thoughts in his new book, released only 2 days ago.

Shieh, who was blacklisted and barred from returning to Taiwan during Taiwan's infamous martial law era, said that Taiwan's judicial system -- which allows prosecutors to detain suspects without charge -- is unreasonable and bucks the general world trend of respecting citizens' human rights.

According to Shieh, Taiwan's prosecution authorities often arrest and detain suspects with no visitation rights on the grounds that the suspects might destroy evidence or collude with potential co-defendants in tampering with evidence if allowed to remain at large.

"Under this sort of system, prosecutors can detain suspects arbitrarily without providing convincing evidence to back their suspicions or allegations," Shieh said.

Noting that such arbitrary detention, even though legal under Taiwan's system, infringes upon the detainee's basic human rights, Shieh said that even if the detainee is later acquitted, his or her reputation has been seriously marred.

Shieh was also critical of the rampant problem of "trial by media" that is so common in Taiwan, complaining that some prosecutors often handle their cases in terms of the amount of media reports they can garner.


Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that the ROC MOJ responded specifically to the allegations in the "open letter." This gives unnecessary legitimacy to to distortion of ROC law by certain foreign special interest groups. A polite "thank you for your concern" by the MOJ would have been more appropriate.

Anonymous said...

It is very common for authoritarian states to hide their human rights abuses behind some very bad laws crafted by agents of the regime who's purpose it is to protect the regime's monopoly of power.

In Taiwan's case, both the constitution and judiciary are flawed to the point that both are allowed to be abused by political forces in allowing very bad laws to constrict and subvert the rights of the citizens through statutory regulations and inconsistent procedure.

In regard to the points made by the MOJ in this letter, it should be pointed out that the KMT regime regarded their human rights abuses under the period of White Terror as "legal under the laws of the nation" as the Temporary Articles, Anti-Sedition Law, The Anti-banditry/hoodlum Law and the National Security Law, were all considered legal and in concord with the constitution until the mid-1990's when these laws started being repealed as unconstitutional. There are still many remnants of these laws and other bad laws from the first KMT authoritarian era that are just as offensive to human rights advocates.

Anonymous said...

She seems to misunderstand the purpose of civil disobedience. The citizens reserve the right and obligation to protest and violate laws which are unjust.

Michael Turton said...

It is unfortunate that the ROC MOJ responded specifically to the allegations in the "open letter." This gives unnecessary legitimacy to to distortion of ROC law by certain foreign special interest groups.

Yes, it must really suck for you guys on the anti-democracy side that so many people around the world care about Taiwan in a way that you don't.


Anonymous said...

"unnecessary legitimacy"

Obviously there are enough people who feel the objections are legitimate and necessary to arouse a response from the MOJ.

What I want to know is where the attitude comes from that these objections to the ROC law are illegitimate.