Tue, Apr 09, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Declassification of political cases urged

NSB ACTIONS QUERIED:Lawmakers were told the NSB refuses to turn over documents related to the Lin family murders, Chen Wen-chen’s death and the Kaohsiung Incident

By Chen Yu-fu and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus members hold placards during a meeting of the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday to protest the draft political archives act.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

The National Security Bureau (NSB) has listed files on allegedly politically motivated cases as “permanently classified,” thereby denying the Transitional Justice Commission access, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) said yesterday.

The Presidential Office should investigate whether the head of the NSB who approved the permanent classification of such documents abused their power, and to declassify or change the classification of the documents, he said.

During a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee to review a draft political archives act, Tuan asked commission member Yeh Hung-ling (葉虹靈) whether it was having trouble obtaining documents from other agencies.

While the commission has been successful for the most part, it has faced difficulty getting access to files from the NSB on 21 cases since August last year, Yeh said.

The cases included the 1980 murder of Lin I-hsiung’s (林義雄) mother and twin daughters while he was being detained in connection with the 1979 Kaohsiung Incident; the incident itself, which refers to the clash between security forces and protesters during a Dec. 10 pro-democracy demonstration organized by Formosa Magazine (美麗島雜誌) and widespread arrests in the aftermath of the protest; and the 1981 death of Carnegie Mellon University associate professor Chen Wen-chen (陳文成) one day after he was questioned by Taiwan Garrison Command staff.

The bureau has only given the commission access to files on the Lin family murders, Yeh said.

It has denied access to the remaining files on account that they were “permanently classified,” he said.

Article 12 of the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法), which allows files on sources of national security-related intelligence to remain permanently classified, does not apply to the cases mentioned by Yeh, Tuan said.

“Sources of national security-related intelligence” refers to intelligence officers who collect information on other nations, he said.

Giving a hypothetical example, he said an investigator working undercover at Formosa Magazine would not have been considered a source of national security-related intelligence, the lawmaker said.

The act stipulates that information cannot be classified to conceal illegal behavior or administrative errors, or to cover up disreputable behavior by individuals or groups, he said.

If the Taiwan Garrison Command or any national security agencies broke the law in their handling of Chen’s case, the NSB cannot use this as reason to permanently classify the documents, he said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers on the committee accused the DPP administration of using the draft political archives act to persecute their party.

National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) responded by saying that the draft act was not targeted at anyone.

The purpose of the proposed legislation is to objectively restore history, and to facilitate the publication and preservation of political documents, she said.

The proposed act would help efforts to achieve transitional justice, DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) said, adding that as many relevant documents are still in the KMT’s possession, there is an urgent need for the draft act.

According to the Executive Yuan’s draft of the act, political documents would be automatically declassified once their classification period expires or the conditions for declassification have been met.

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