Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) vowed yesterday to improve treatment of detainees amid widespread criticism and concerns about human rights violations during investigations.
“We are going to use the UN’s and other countries’ regulations as references and thoroughly review and modify [treatment of detainees] so that our protection of detainees’ human rights will live up to international standards,” Wang said when approached for comment in the legislature.
Wang said the ministry had established a special task force to review detention regulations, including those covering hair, the availability of hot water for washing and prosecutors’ authority to request suspects be detained before trial.
The ministry was criticized after former National Security Council secretary-general Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), who has been detained for alleged corruption, was spotted by reporters with a crew cut.
Wang said the ministry was also reviewing the appropriateness of handcuffing former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) when he was detained on Nov. 11 for alleged money laundering. Prosecutors are supposed to only handcuff suspects who may commit a violent crime, commit suicide or escape, she said.
“There have been some [concerns] like several advertisements [sic] published in the Taipei Times. Some international figures questioned why our Special Investigation Panel only focused its investigations on [former] government officials affiliated with the pan-green camp,” she said.
Wang was referring to an open letter from former American Institute in Taiwan chairman Nat Bellocchi and several others published by the Taipei Times on Tuesday. The signatories said they remained concerned about “choices made by prosecutors in applying existing legal authority and strongly believe in the need for reform” following the detention of several officials of the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.
The government was determined to push judicial reform, Wang said.
“We will do what should be done in terms of human rights protection,” she said. “This government faces problems and solves them. The nation pushed democratic reform in the past. There’s no reason we can’t push [judicial reform] in the 21st century.”
Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑), head of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, will leave for Washington on Sunday. His delegation will explain to US officials that the KMT government has not violated human rights during the investigations of former DPP officials.