Sun, Apr 02, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Judicial subcommittee suggests scrapping defamation

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The fifth subcommittee meeting of the national conference on judicial reform met at the Judical Yuan in Taipei on Thursday to discuss decriminalizing defamation, drafting a special law to protect whistle-blowers and government corruption.

The subcommittee also discussed economic crimes, minor offenses under the Criminal Code, and deficiencies in judicial procedure.

The members reached a consensus on decriminalizing defamation, which is codified as public insult, slander and aggravated libel under the Criminal Code.

The decision to decriminalize defamation has to do with protecting free speech and free media, said Taiwan National Chiao Tung University law professor Lin Chih-chieh (林志潔), a leading member of the subcommittee.

“Prosecution of offenses relating to freedom of expression contravene the protection of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. We must not permit prosecution of these offenses to being used as threats to silence people,” Lin said, adding that the majority of these cases are a waste of resources, as they are dismissed without charge after prosecutors investigate.

Lin and other officials suggested the cases related to insult, defamation and slander be filed with the civil court.

A Ministry of Justice recommendation to draft a special law to protect people who report criminal activity was supported by the subcommittee, in line with whistleblower protection acts enforced in many countries, including the US, Canada, the UK, Japan, South Korea, France, Germany and New Zealand.

Lin said that the judiciary refers to the Witness Protection Act (證人保護法) in such cases, but there are severe restrictions on the scope and statue of limitations on protective measures for whistle-blowers.

Members said greater efforts are needed to investigate alleged corruption, profiteering, influence peddling and related crimes by public functionaries and officials at various levels of the government, followed by strict enforcement of the law.

The subcommittee recommended reassessing and integrating malfeasance by those holding public office and the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) to address corruption and economic crimes in government ranks.

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