Fri, Jul 09, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Detainee conditions could improve

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

The Cabinet yesterday approved an amendment to the Detention Act (羈押法) to better reflect the principle of presumption of innocence.

Executive Yuan Spokesman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) quoted Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) as saying that the Detention Act was not in accordance with the principle because it applies the prisoner-management system stipulated in the Prison Act (監獄行刑法) to detainees.

“Detainees are not prisoners, and therefore they should be treated differently from prisoners,” Chiang quoted Wu as saying at a press conference after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

If the amendment is passed by the legislature, a number of restrictions imposed on detainees will be lifted, with only the ones dealing with keeping order at detention centers and detainee safety retained.

The amendment requires detention centers to provide access to radio and TVs to defendants, and detainees can request their own radios and TVs.

It also states that detainees cannot be denied their right to freedom of religion or belief.

The draft also requires detention centers to provide baby-care facilities if needed and bars center officials from conducting intrusive physical examinations unless they have substantial evidence that a defendant is in possession of prohibited items.

Detainees would also be allowed to leave their detention centers for 24 hours to visit their families when they receive news of death of a grandparent, parent, spouse, child, sibling, or parent-in-laws.

The amendment would also require a detention center to set up a nine-person committee to review detainee complaints against the center’s management.

Four of the committee members would be designated by the head of the detention center, but the other five must not have any connection to either the detention center or to any detainee at that center.

Cabinet-approved proposed changes to the Detention Act

• Detainees would gain access to radios and TVs or could apply to have their own.

• Intrusive physical examinations would not be allowed unless there is substantial evidence a detainee possessed prohibited items.

• Detainees would be granted 24-hour leave in the case of a death in their immediate family.

• Detainee-complaint review committees would be established.

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