Thu, Nov 06, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Open letter on erosion of justice in Taiwan

The undersigned, scholars and writers from the US, Europe and Australia, wish to express their deep concern about the recent series of detentions in Taiwan of present and former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government officials. To date there have been at least seven such cases.

It is obvious that there have been cases of corruption in Taiwan, but these have occurred in both political camps. The political neutrality of the judicial system is an essential element in a democracy. It is also essential that any accused are considered innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.

We also believe that the procedures followed by the prosecutor’s offices are severely flawed: while one or two of the accused have been formally charged, the majority is being held incommunicado without being charged. This is a severe contravention of the writ of habeas corpus and a basic violation of due process, justice and the rule of law.

In the meantime, the prosecutor’s offices evidently leak detrimental information to the press. This kind of “trial by press” is a violation of the basic standards of judicial procedures. It also gives the distinct impression that the Kuomintang (KMT) authorities are using the judicial system to get even with members of the former DPP government.

In addition, the people who are being held incommunicado are of course unable to defend themselves against the misreporting and the leaks in the news media.

We do firmly believe that any alleged wrongdoings must be dealt with in a fair and open manner in an impartial court. Justice through the rule of law is essential to Taiwan’s efforts to consolidate democracy and protect fundamental human rights.

We do not want to see Taiwan’s hard-earned democracy jeopardized in this manner. Taiwan can justifiably be proud of its transition to democracy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It would be sad for Taiwan and detrimental to its international image if the progress which was made during the past 20 years would be erased. Taiwan needs to move forward, not backwards to the unfair and unjust procedures as practiced during the dark days of Martial Law (1947-1987).

Signed:

Julian Baum

Former Far Eastern Economic Review bureau chief

Nat Bellocchi

Former American Institute in Taiwan chairman

Coen Blaauw

Formosan Association for Public Affairs, Washington

David Prager Branner

Director at large (East Asia),

American Oriental Society

Gordon G. Chang

Author of

The Coming Collapse of China

PROF. June Teufel Dreyer

University of Miami

PROF. Edward Friedman

University of Wisconsin

PROF. Bruce Jacobs

Monash University

Richard C. Kagan

Professor emeritus,

Hamline University

Jerome Keating

Author and former associate professor, National Taipei University

ASSOC. PROF. Daniel Lynch

School of International Relations, University of Southern California

PROF. Victor H. Mair

University of Pennsylvania

ASSOC. PROF. Donald Rodgers

Austin College

PROF. Terence Russell

University of Manitoba

PROF. Scott Simon

University of Ottawa

John J. Tkacik Jr

Senior research fellow,

The Heritage Foundation

Gerrit van der Wees

Editor, Taiwan Communique PROF. Arthur Waldron

University of Pennsylvania

PROF. Vincent Wei-cheng Wang

University of Richmond

Stephen Yates

President of DC Asia Advisory and former deputy assistant to the vice president for national security affairs.

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