Tue, Dec 23, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Human rights task force tackles abuse concerns

By Shih Hsiu-Chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan’s task force on human rights yesterday addressed concerns over a regulation that criminalizes distribution of messages that hint at paid sex with minors.

A majority of members of the task force favored scrapping the regulation, but a consensus on the revision was not reached because of opposition from the Ministry of the Interior’s Children Bureau (CBI), Albert Lin (林清修), deputy minister of the Government Information Office, said yesterday.

Lin made the remarks after a meeting of the task force convened by Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄).

Liu instructed the National Police Agency (NPA), which proposed the revision to Article 29 of the Child and Youth Sexual Transaction Prevention Act (兒童及少年性交易防制條例), and the CBI to continue to study the subject, Lin said.

The article states that anyone spreading, broadcasting, or publishing news or information which may suggest or in any other way have a person engage in a sexual transaction shall be liable to a five-year jail term and could also be fined up to NT$1 million (US$30,000).

At the meeting, the NPC proposed decriminalizing “sexually suggestive messages” and replacing jail sentences with a fine.

Human rights activists have criticized law enforcement authorities for using the article as a tool to score points for themselves as there are cases of them monitoring Internet chat rooms and bulletin boards and using Internet addresses to identity adults for posting such messages or of them intentionally arranging sexual transactions to have arrest Web users in flagrante delicto.

The NPA said that the article set too high a standard and was not adaptable to reality, citing that 38 percent of the cases found by police to be violations of the article ended up with suspended indictments from prosecutors. Most violatiors of the article were given six-month jail terms, the NPA said.

NPA Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) said that his agency had adopted a new performance evaluation system, under which the performance of the police was not judged by how many cases they refer to prosecutors, but by how many suspects they refer to prosecutors are found guilty.

Deputy Minister of Research, Development, and Evaluation Commission Kuang S. Yeh (葉匡時) quoted Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) as saying that the NPA should disclose data on how the police detected sex crimes and how many cases were real in light of the significant increase in the number of suspected violations since the article passed, from 1,000 in 2001 to 6,000 last year.

Meanwhile, Chang Chin-hwa (張錦華), a professor of journalism at the Graduate Institute of Journalism at National Taiwan University, suggested the Cabinet taking a serious attitude towards the phenomenon that the number of people going to China for organ transplantation has been on the increase.

Liu agreed to suggestions from Chang that the Department of Health should reveal the number on a regular basis, promote concerns about human rights and medical ethics over China’s organ transplant industry, and encourage the concept of organ donation domestically, Yeh said.

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