The legislature yesterday passed the Special Service Act (特種勤務條例), which governs the operations of special agents, after controversial provisions in the draft version of the bill that opponents said could lead to abuses of power were addressed.
Last week, human rights groups voiced concerns over the draft bill, which gave enhanced powers to the National Security Bureau’s Special Service Center (SSC) to aid their protection of presidents, vice presidents, their spouses and first-degree direct blood relatives, as well as retired presidents and vice presidents.
A clause that would have granted the SSC special judicial authority, allowing it to conduct judicial investigations — a major concern of the rights groups — was removed at the insistence of the Democratic Progressive Party and the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union.
According to the act, special agents at the SSC are allowed to be equipped with firearms when they are on duty and the use of the weapons is subject to four conditions specified by the act and the Use of Police Weapons Act (警械使用條例).
In response to the concerns raised by the rights groups, lawmakers attached a resolution to the new bill saying that the Use of Police Weapons Act and Police Duties Enforcement Act (警察職權行使法) would be examined by the legislature in one year, to bring the rules in line with the UN Human Rights Covenants.
The newly enacted legislation stipulates that special agents can follow rules in the Use of Police Weapons Act and Police Duties Enforcement Act when performing their duties. The latest revisions of the two acts occurred nine years and eight years ago respectively.
Under the current rules, the SSC can coordinate with the Presidential Office’s Department of Security Affairs, the Coast Guard Administration, the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau and Military Police Command in its security missions.
The new act authorizes the SSC to also coordinate with the National Police Agency and local police authorities.