Wed, Apr 29, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Attorney-client discussions gain protection

ON THE FLOOR The legislature passed amendments to detention and tax laws and cut the cost of cooking wine but failed to vote on changes to the Assembly and Parade Act

By Flora Wang and Jenny W. hsu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The legislature approved an amendment to the Detention Act (羈押法) yesterday barring detention center officials from videotaping or recording meetings between detainees and their lawyers.

The amendment states that detention center personnel can “monitor” the meetings, but not listen in.

A new article authorizes detention center officials to “open” letters or documents passed between detainees and their attorneys to check for banned items, but bars the officials from reading the material.

The amendment was proposed in response to a constitutional interpretation by the Council of Grand Justices on Jan. 23 that videotaping and/or recording detainee-attorney meetings was unconstitutional.

However, legislators rejected a proposal by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chai Trong-rong (蔡同榮) and 15 other lawmakers to extend the length of detainee-attorney meetings from 30 minutes to two hours.

Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) said during the review of the amendment that the Executive Yuan had proposed the bill to protect rights guaranteed by the Constitution and meet international human rights standards.

“Detainees should enjoy the right to freely communicate with their defense lawyers during meetings,” she said.

Legislators also passed an amendment to the Tax Collection Act (稅捐稽徵法) barring tax personnel from disclosing taxpayers’ income or tax information. They also approved an amendment to the Securities and Futures Investors Protection Act (證券投資人及期貨交易人保護法) allowing the Financial Supervisory Commission to propose a means — within three months — of protecting investors in structured notes by using regulations adopted by other countries as reference.

Lawmakers also voted to cut the price of cooking rice wine from NT$180 per bottle to NT$50. However, they failed to vote on a hotly debated amendments to the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) after they failed to reach a consensus on the bills.

In related news, 25 civic groups called the Executive Yuan’s proposed revision of the Assembly and Parade Law a bid to reimpose martial law and called on 41 Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators who supported their proposed amendment to the act in defense of their ideals.

Demonstrating in front of the legislature, the protestors said they did not rule out besieging the legislature if the government did not meet their demands.

“The act is a blatant violation of the people’s constitutional rights. If passed, Taiwan will become a police state,” Taiwan Association of University Professors chairman Tsai Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) said.

Also See: EDITORIAL: An exercise in wasting time

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