Wed, Jul 19, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Civic groups criticize assembly law

OPPRESSION Some 20 associations charged that the government has used the Assembly and Parade Law as a tool to suppress, instead of protect, public liberty

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Several civic groups yesterday demanded that the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法) be amended, saying it deprives the public of freedom of assembly, making it a stumbling block to building a civil society.

"The law is supposed to ensure the public's freedom to assemble and stage rallies; instead, it has become a means for the police to suppress public opinion," said Liu Ching-yi (劉靜怡), vice chairman of Taiwan Association of Human Rights.

Lin made the remarks at a hearing organized by Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) yesterday. The association and 20 other civic groups recently formed an alliance to push for an amendment to what they called a "bad" law.

Huang Te-pei (黃德北), a professor in the department of social development at Shih Hsin University, said that "police discretion" should be described more specifically in the law as this has largely been abused by the police in recent years.

"Last May, our labor union was protesting in front of the headquarters of Chunghwa Telecom. It was a legal action, but the police tried to disperse us," said Simon Chang (張緒中), president of Chunghwa Telecom's Workers' Union.

Under current regulations, the police are given the power to permit or deny applications for assembly, restrict protesters' activities, maintain order and dismiss an assembly, but no norm is given as to how this power should be exercised.

The alliance called for cancelation of the regulation that people cannot assemble without a permit, demanding that this be replaced by registration.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said that staging or participating in an assembly is a basic human right that should not be limited.

She suggested that the government to abolish the Assembly and Parade Law.

Liu said that the freedom of assembly, which allows the public to voice their opinion, is a very important element of a civil society.

"It's hard to build up a real civil society if people can't shake off the fear of being dispersed, arrested, or indicted because of their participation in a gathering," Liu said.

Vice Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) said that the ministry didn't oppose amending the law if some of the current articles needed to be changed.

"I know the Assembly and Parade Law is not perfect. However, the main purpose of it is still to defend people's freedom of assembly, and maintaining order is supplementary. We still need the law, but we are open to making changes," Chien said.

This story has been viewed 3070 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top