Thu, Aug 12, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Control Yuan questions legality of martial law era

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A political prisoner from the White Terror era yesterday said he would launch a campaign to encourage victims convicted by military tribunals to take legal action to clear their names and demand compensation, after the Control Yuan raised questions about the legality of the Martial Law Era.

Hsieh Tsung-min (謝聰敏), a national policy adviser under the Democratic Progressive Party administration, made the remarks following the release of a Control Yuan report questioning the constitutional legitimacy of the implementation of martial law, which was imposed in 1949 and lasted 38 years.

Control Yuan members Huang Huang-hsiung (黃煌雄), Yeh Yao-peng (葉耀鵬) and Liu Hsing-shan (劉興善) made the report public at a press conference yesterday, saying the document was based on more than one year of scrutinizing all available documents kept by the government.

Liu said the KMT government proclaimed a series of martial laws three times between December 1948 and November 1949. The last, declared on Nov. 22, 1949, specifically put the entire “Taiwan area” under martial law.

Liu said the legitimacy of the order issued on Nov. 22 was questionable because it was not signed by acting president Li Zongren (李宗仁), who had taken over after Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) resigned as president on Jan. 21, 1949.

It was also unconstitutional because the order should have been ratified by the legislature within a month of its decree.

“We did not find any documents showing that the order was signed off by Li and promulgated, as Li had left Chongqing and was then in the US. If it had been promulgated, the Central Daily News [the KMT mouthpiece] would have published the news the next day, but it did not,” Liu said.

Huang said the Control Yuan published the report to shed light on that part of history, adding that it was not for the Control Yuan to decide whether martial law was implemented unconstitutionally.

“Convictions made during the era could be annulled if the imposition of martial law is ruled to have been unconstitutional and illegal,” Huang said.

“We are not sure whether the martial laws were invalid, but we think they might have been flawed, and the answer can only be given by the Constitutional Court,” Liu said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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