Fri, Jul 05, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Third reading of political archives act passes floor

By Huang Hsin-po and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Democratic Progressive Party and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators hold up placards yesterday in the main chamber of Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Photo: CNA

The Legislative Yuan in an extraordinary session yesterday passed a third reading of the Political Archives Act (政治檔案法) that includes prison as a punishment for individuals who attempt to destroy or hide political documents.

The legislation, of which the National Development Council is the competent authority, aims to establish a system for making the documents publicly accessible that fulfills the spirit of transitional justice, while protecting the privacy of individuals mentioned in the documents.

It also aims to promote historical research and transitional justice education on the former authoritarian regime, the Martial Law era, the period of national mobilization for the suppression of the communist rebellion and the 228 Massacre, as well as release the truth and facilitate societal reconciliation, and handle the collection, organization, storage, publication, research of and education on political archives.

The act defines “political archives” as files, records or documents kept by government agencies, political parties and their affiliate organizations and party-run institutions — including those that have already been abolished — from Aug. 15, 1945, to Nov. 6, 1992, related to the 228 Massacre, the system of national mobilization for the suppression of the communist rebellion or the Martial Law era.

It requires government agencies to complete an inventory of the documents they possess within six months of the implementation of the act, with the possibility of an extension of no longer than six months.

Documents belonging to the agencies considered to be political documents by the council’s National Archives Administration would need to be transferred to the National Archives within a specified time period, the act says.

Political documents in the possession of political parties and their affiliate organizations or party-run institutions considered national documents by the Transitional Justice Commission would also need to be transferred to the National Archives, it says.

The act stipulates that before government agencies transfer political documents to the National Archives, they should conduct a review to decide whether to declassify or lower the classification of sensitive documents within six months of the creation of their inventories.

Documents that have been classified for more than three decades and have no legal basis to be classified should be declassified, it says.

Individuals mentioned in political documents may apply for access to those documents, it says.

If access to the documents would involve the reversal of legal injustices, compensation, the prevention of a breach of personal rights or other emergencies, the applicant may provide a written explanation to have their application prioritized, the act says.

The act stipulates that political parties and their affiliate organizations or party-run institutions that refuse to hand over political documents to the National Archives could be fined NT$1 million to NT$5 million (US$32,152 to US$160,761), with the possibility of consecutive fines.

Those who destroy, discard, damage, hide or otherwise make the political documents they possess unusable, or attempt to do so, could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, it says.

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