Fri, Mar 13, 2015 - Page 1 News List

MOJ’s grand justice pick sparks protest

MILITARY SHADOW:Lin Hui-huang has never apologized for his role in the trial of pro-democracy activists over the Kaohsiung Incident of 1979, rights groups said

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

A file photo shows then-minister of justice Tseng Yung-fu, left, handing the seal of office to Academy for the Judiciary President Lin Hui-huang at an inauguration ceremony in Taipei on Jan. 7, 2013.

Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

Human rights groups yesterday denounced the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) for nominating Lin Hui-huang (林輝煌), one of the military prosecutors in the trials stemming from the Kaohsiung Incident of 1979, as one of its two candidates for grand justices.

The ministry’s selection of Lin — now president of the ministry’s Academy for the Judiciary — goes against the spirit of transitional justice and is detrimental to Taiwan’s democratic culture, the Taiwan Association for Truth and Reconciliation said in a joint statement with seven other human rights groups.

The Kaohsiung Incident is one of the most significant events in Taiwan’s contemporary history, in which pro-democracy activists formed an alliance to challenge the authoritarian regime.

Lin, then serving his mandatory military service and a second lieutenant judge advocate, indicted eight activists on sedition charges in his capacity as a military prosecutor.

In the indictment, Lin accused Formosa Magazine, a magazine that had been a stronghold of the pro-democracy activists, of “assuming a legitimate facade to shield the illegitimate, using the slogans of human rights, democracy and freedom to publish radical thinking, defame the government, dissolve the solidarity and deliberately manufacture conflicts, and having at the same time a long-term and short-term plan for seizing power and illegally toppling the government,” the joint statement said.

Lin called himself just and unbiased in his oral argument and claimed that the indictment contained nothing but the truth, it said.

“Lin’s role in the trial was in line with the need of the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] regime, which had been consolidating its authoritarian rule with military trials,” the statement said.

Taiwan’s transitional justice has long been “victim-centered,” without judicial or administrative mechanisms to lead society to engage in a systematic reflection on the perpetrators’ accountability, the groups said.

“We do not have the chance to see these judges expound on the roles they played in the perpetrators’ system. Did they eagerly seek out these tasks or could they not say no? Did they waver in the face of the democratic waves? Has Lin ever reflected upon what he did in the past?” the statement said.

As the guardians of the Constitution who play a pivotal role in the country’s constitutional-political development and the safeguarding of basic human rights, the grand justices’ democratic and human rights convictions are important, “but Taiwan’s judicial system has never faced its past participation in authoritarian rule,” it said.

The groups said that they consider Lin, who participated in the political persecution and has never publicly reflected on his past deeds, an inappropriate candidate for the position. They urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the evaluation committee to reject Lin’s candidacy given the potential negative impact his appointment might have on democracy, the rule of law and transitional justice.

Defending the ministry’s choice at a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) said: “No one is perfect.”

“He [Lin] is the best among the possible candidates, with a good performance record,” Luo said, when Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) asked for her view on Lin’s nomination.

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