President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has heard the call of the White Rose Movement and is urging swift passage of a draft bill to regulate the certification, performance and ethics of judges, the Presidential Office said in a statement issued yesterday.
The statement came in response to a rally by thousands of demonstrators in front of the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard last night calling for incompetent judges to be dismissed. Demonstrators also called for legislation to better protect children and people with disabilities against sexual abuse.
The demonstrators, many joined by their children, handed out white roses to call for better care of minors.
PHOTO: SAM YEH, AFP
The White Rose Movement, initiated by local netizens and organizations dedicated to the welfare of women and children, emerged amid public fury stirred by the recent acquittals and light sentences given to people accused of molesting children because the judges ruled that it could not be proven that the victims had objected to the actions of the defendants.
In one case, Supreme Court judges rejected an appeal to convict a suspect accused of molesting a three-year-old girl because prosecutors failed to prove the alleged offense was committed against the girl’s wishes. The case was sent back to a lower court for retrial.
In another case, a judge ruled that prosecutors failed to prove a six-year-old girl had shown “strong will” in fighting off the perpetrator, and found him guilty of “having sex with a person under 14 years of age,” which came with a sentence of three years and two months in prison, rather than finding him guilty of committing “sexual assault,” which is punishable by three to 10 years in jail.
The rulings led to 300,000 Internet users lodging online complaints demanding the judges be fired and calling for an overhaul of the judiciary system.
“We need laws to protect children who don’t know how to fend off sex abuse,” Garden of Hope Foundation executive director Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) said.
The Judicial Yuan has since agreed to push for an amendment that regards sex with children under the age of seven as rape, which is punishable by a minimum sentence of seven years.
Giving his support for tougher penalties for child molesters, Ma said in the statement that he attached great importance to judicial reform and hoped that a draft of the judges’ act approved by the Cabinet and sent to the legislature on Thursday, would pass in a speedy manner.
During the legislative procedure, it is necessary to seek opinions from all circles before reaching a consensus, the statement said.
Equally important is the on-the-job training of judges and prosecutors, it said, adding that the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Justice must step up efforts to organize training programs.
It is worth considering cooperating with expert witnesses when the court was hearing cases of sexual assault on children, it added.
As for the compulsory medical treatment of pedophiles, the statement said Ma would like to see related agencies get on with the program, complementing other prevention measures, such as circulating notices when a pedophile moved into a community and observing high-risk families.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA AND AP
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official
CAUTION: Taiwan had zero cases of death from food poisoning for six years until last year, when two people died after eating wildlife, an FDA official said The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged the public not to eat wildlife or unidentified wild plants, as they could be fatal, with nearly 7,000 people affected by food poisoning last year, including two deaths due to wildlife consumption. The number of food poisoning incidents increased by nearly 50 percent last year, from 398 cases involving 4,616 people in the previous year to 503 cases involving 6,944 people, FDA data showed. That figure was the second-highest in history, the FDA said, adding that the highest number was recorded in 1997, with 7,235 people. Among the 503 cases, 87 were food poisoning clusters