Thu, Apr 13, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Good morals needed for citizen applicants: MOI

NATURALIZATION:Other countries like Canada and Australia also require that citizenship applicants have good moral character, the Ministry of the Interior said

Staff writer, with CNA

Members of the Alliance for Human Rights Legislation for Immigrants and Migrants perform a skit during a news conference in Taipei on Tuesday. They say the government’s sytem of checking identification papers infringes the human rights of immigrants.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) on Tuesday said that it is necessary to retain the “good moral character” requirement for new immigrants seeking Republic of China (ROC) citizenship.

Prostitution, drunk driving and other offenses that authorities might consider to be less severe might not appear on a criminal record, but could still affect social order, “and it is therefore necessary to retain such a requirement” in the Nationality Act (國籍法) governing non-citizens who are seeking Republic of China (ROC) citizenship, ministry officials said.

Article 3 of the act requires applicants to “have demonstrated good moral character and to have no criminal record.”

Department of Household Registration Affairs officials were responding to a call by the Alliance for Human Rights Legislation for Immigrants and Migrants to remove Article 3’s “good moral character” requirement from the Nationality Act.

The alliance urged the government to change the “no criminal record” requirement to “no criminal cases record that can be proved by an absence of a police criminal record.”

The public cannot accept the idea that they should be punished for such minor offenses, while foreigners or new immigrants with a record of such offenses can apply for ROC citizenship, the officials said.

They quoted naturalization laws of other countries, such as Canada, South Korea, Singapore and Australia, as requiring applicants for naturalization to “have good moral character” so that once they become citizens they will not adversely impact national security and social norms.

In the US, they said, people who fail to pay for their children’s education or those who are charged with drunk and disorderly behavior or with using illegal drugs are considered as “not demonstrating good moral character.”

They said that in Japan, drunk driving, unintentional crimes and theft are also listed as behaviors “not showing good moral character.”

The ministry has invited academics and experts to discuss how to define what kinds of people have “not demonstrated good moral character.”

During two rounds of discussions, on March 15 and on Monday, participants said that after taking into account new immigrants’ rights and citizens’ perceptions about new immigrants, they would recommend listing only “serious” minor offenses as “not demonstrating good moral character” — such as offenses in which indictment has been confirmed, but delayed, or offenses for which prison terms, fines or delayed execution of the sentence have been handed down.

Also to be considered as “serious” minor offenses are use of hallucinogenic drugs, engaging in gang fights, failure to live up to legal obligations to support a spouse or dependent children, habitual domestic violence and seriously damaging public interest.

Ministry officials said these offenders would be observed for two to three years, after which, if they do not repeat their offenses, they would be permitted to resubmit their applications for naturalization.

“This is a policy that takes into account both the applicant’s rights and the national interest,” they said.

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