Human rights in the judicial process was the focus of participants at the annual World Summit on Human Rights for World Citizens in Taipei yesterday.
“The political system in Taiwan has democratized, but our judicial system has not,” said Chang Jynn-hong (張俊宏), chairman of the Foundation of Township Reform and Environmental Protection and former Democratic Progressive Party legislator. “But without a truly democratic-minded judicial system, we are without a genial democracy.”
Kainan University Department of Banking and Finance chairman Peng Pai-hsien (彭百顯) agreed, saying that in the past four decades, “Taiwan has made progress in many areas, especially in economic and political reform, but I wouldn’t be so proud about our judiciary.”
“I sometimes feel ashamed when talking about protection of human rights in the judiciary,” he said, adding that after more than a decade of judicial reform, several human rights organizations — at home or abroad — said Taiwan was actually taking a step backward in the area of protecting human rights.
“From time to time, we’ve heard about political intervention in the judiciary,” Peng said. “Worse, the judiciary openly abuses its power, discloses details about ongoing cases and often considers a defendant guilty until proven innocent.”
He said it was ironic to see journalists arriving at a place before the prosecutor and the police arrive to conduct a search, adding that it was not uncommon for interrogation transcripts to be different from what the detainee said.
“Prosecutors often disclose information about an ongoing case, creating the image among the public that the person who has been charged is guilty of the offense before prosecutors can prove it,” Peng said, adding that “this kind of ‘trial by public’ or ‘trial by the media’ is totally illegal, but no one in the judiciary has ever been held responsible for it.”
Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), who also attended the conference, urged the public to respect nature and other species.
“Right now, we’ve reached the stage where we can see ourselves not as masters — but guests — of the Earth, and we should respect nature and other species,” she said.
“Respecting nature would give us the ultimate protection, because when we over-exploit nature, disasters occur as a consequence, and we all become victims,” Lu said.
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Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
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Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up