Thu, Dec 01, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Activist acquitted on protest charge, pushes for reform

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

Human rights activists yesterday celebrated a court decision declaring Taiwan Association for Human Rights chairman Lin Chia-fan (林佳範) not guilty of violating the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法), but continued to press for the law to be amended.

Walking out of the Taipei District Court building with a smile, Lin was greeted and surrounded by his cheering supporters.

“I have been declared not guilty, however, the Assembly and Parade Act, which restricts people’s freedoms of speech and of expression is still around,” Lin said outside the courthouse. “We still have a long way to go.”

Lin was indicted for violation of the Assembly and Parade Act when he led a demonstration outside the Legislative Yuan on Nov. 19, 2008, calling on the legislature to revise the law.

“Although I have been declared not guilty, the process to amend the Assembly and Parade Act has not moved an inch since lawmakers and the government presented different proposals in 2009,” Lin said.

“Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) is known as a follower of liberalism, but I haven’t seen him do anything to push for changes in the Assembly and Parade Act, which is a relic of the Martial Law era,” he added.

Association secretary-general Tsai Chi-hsun (蔡季勳) also urged the Council of Grand Justices to quickly rule on an application for constitutional interpretation submitted by a Taipei District Court judge on whether the Assembly and Parade Act violates people’s freedom of expression.

The judge filed the request in September last year when reviewing the case of Lee Ming-tsung (李明璁), an assistant professor in National Taiwan University’s department of sociology.

Lee was indicted for participating in a months-long demonstration that started in November 2008 to protest the police’s use of force against protesters during a visit by Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) that month, and calling for the abolition of the Assembly and Parade Act.

According to the Judicial Yuan’s Web site, the Grand Council of Justices has yet to schedule a review on the request for a constitutional interpretation.

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