Mon, Apr 01, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Chinese court offer dubious, critics say

SPECIAL SERVICES?The Supreme People’s Court’s offer is another example of China trying to turn its Taiwanese residency cards into a national ID card, a law professor said

By Chung Li-hua  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Chiu Ee-ling speaks at an event in Taipei on Sept. 28 last year.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Academics and civil groups have voiced concern over an offer by China’s Supreme People’s Court last week to extend certain judicial services to Taiwanese, citing China’s poor human rights records.

The court listed 36 measures that officials said would “benefit Taiwanese” and “promote cross-strait integration,” ranging from allowing Taiwanese to use their Chinese residency card for identification in lawsuits before the Supreme Court, letting them apply for legal assistance, audit trials and meet with their guardian, or relatives after being indicted, unless doing so would undermine their trail, to possibly hiring Taiwanese as court clerks and promoting court internship programs for Taiwanese.

A service for Taiwanese detained in China would inform their family of their situation within 24 hours of their detention, the court said.

By offering an increasing number of benefits to its residency cardholders, the Chinese government is apparently attempting to “domesticize Taiwanese affairs” and turn the residency cards into a national identification card, said Hu Po-yen (胡博硯), an associate law professor at Soochow University.

The new measures would only apply to the Supreme Court, which means Chinese prosecutors, police and security authorities could still arrest and detain Taiwanese without informing anyone, he added.

China’s judiciary does not have the same judicial independence and awareness in human rights as many other countries do, and has little credibility, he said.

“The 36 measures sound nice, but whether they would be followed through is another question,” he said.

There have been plenty of cases where Chinese authorities handled judicial cases arbitrarily and unfairly for a variety of reasons, citing the detention and conviction of Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) and telecom fraud suspects, Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Chiu Ee-ling (邱伊翎) said.

In most cases, Taiwanese families cannot even find out where a relative is being held and the progress of their trial, she said.

Chinese authorities can do whatever they want to Taiwanese, as “human rights are never guaranteed there and the so-called benefits are not real,” she said.

The Mainland Affairs Council said it would be illegal for a Taiwanese to work as a court clerk in China, as clerks are civil servants and the government has, since 2004, banned Taiwanese from working as civil servants in China.

If a Taiwanese accepted such a post, they would be asked to offer an explanation and the council would review related evidence with other government agencies, it said.

Under the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議) and other pacts, China is supposed to notify Taiwan when a Taiwanese is detained in China and allow family visits.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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