New Power Party Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) and the Judicial Reform Foundation yesterday urged the Supreme Administrative Court to overrule the Taipei High Administrative Court’s decision to unfreeze the National Women’s League’s assets, saying that the decision reflected double standards and ignorance about transitional justice.
“The Taipei High Administrative Court has always applied a strict standard when ruling on applications to unfreeze assets, but it took the opposite approach with the league,” Lim told a news conference in Taipei, calling the court’s decision “unbelievable.”
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had dramatically reduced its registered assets from NT$91.8 billion to NT$16.6 billion (US$2.99 billion to US$539.8 million) by the time the Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations (政黨及其附隨組織不當取得財產處理條例) was passed, he said.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
Given that the league has been a longtime donor to the KMT and its affiliated associations, some of its assets could be transferred out in a similar manner once the freeze is lifted, he said, adding: “If the league disposes of its assets, who in the court would take responsibility for that?”
The Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee in February declared the league to be an affiliate of the KMT and froze its assets, which totaled NT$38.5 billion.
According to the committee, the league during the authoritarian era required members of the public to pay the so-called Military Benefit Tax and distributed the money via the KMT.
In response, the league filed a lawsuit to repeal the administrative order and applied to have its assets unfrozen.
The Taipei High Administrative Court on Wednesday last week approved the application to release the league’s assets on the grounds that the group’s freedom of association, freedom of speech, assets and reputation needed to be protected until a decision was handed down in the lawsuit.
The freeze prevents the league from carrying out scheduled affairs in the interest of public causes and welfare, and from effectively using its assets, causing it “unrepairable damage,” the court said in a statement.
Lifting the freeze order would “merely postpone the realization of transitional justice,” it added.
“If the court used the same standard that it had applied in previous cases, all the damage it said the freeze might cause could be considered repairable, as they could all be compensated with the money,” Lim said.
According to Article 116 of the Administrative Litigation Act (行政訴訟法), a freeze should only be lifted when it would cause “unrepairable damage” and when there is an urgent need for that decision, except for cases in which public interests are involved, he said.
“If transitional justice is related to public interests, then the court should not have lifted the freeze,” he said, adding that the court failed to explain that there was an urgent need to unfreeze the assets.
When the committee appealed the decision, the Supreme Administrative Court should overrule it, Judicial Reform Foundation executive director and attorney Chen Yu-fan (陳雨凡) said.
That the judges thought postponing transitional justice was all right shows their ignorance about transitional justice, she said, adding that the Judicial Yuan should require that administrative court judges to take classes on transitional justice.
“Anyone with a minimal understanding of transitional justice would know that it is a race against time,” she said. “Thirty years have passed since the lifting of martial law. How much longer must people wait?”
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