Bill targets adult role in child suicides

UNFAIR BURDEN: The legislature also passed an amendment to the Civil Code to help those who inherit more debt than assets from deceased family members

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Apr 23, 2008 - Page 3

The legislature approved an amendment yesterday to the Children and Juvenile Welfare Law (兒童及少年福利法) that would introduce fines for anyone who encourages children or teenagers to commit suicide.

Under the amendment, anyone who “forces, lures or allows” children and minors to put an end to their life will face fines between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000 and have their names publicized.

The amendment also doubles the fines for anyone who “abandons, physically or psychologically abuses children or adolescents or takes advantage of them to do anything health-threatening.”

Violators will face fines between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said he proposed the amendment because of cases involving suicidal Internet users trying to attract others to end their lives together through online discussion boards and chatrooms.

Meanwhile, the legislature also passed an amendment to the Civil Code that would relieve the financial burden of those who inherit debt as adults from deceased family members.

In accordance with the amendment, those who inherited debt before Jan. 4 of this year will only be required to pay off the debt they have inherited with the money they inherited from family members. If they inherited nothing but debt, they will not be required to pay off those debts. The law does not apply to those who inherited debt after Jan. 4.

The amendment also stipulates that debtors cannot ask creditors to return payments they have already made.

The legislature passed a similar amendment last year that applied to minors who inherit debt from family members.

Yesterday’s amendment is a complement to last year’s amendment, said KMT Legislator Shyu Jong-shyoung (徐中雄), one of the legislators who was pushing yesterday’s proposal.

“With the bill’s passage, unjust debt cases that arose in the past can finally be resolved. This is a big step for Taiwan to leave behind barbarism and become a civilized society,” Shyu said during the plenary session.

In related developments, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said that the legislative session could be extended to the end of June.

When approached for comment, Wang said that budget requests from state-run enterprises would not be submitted to the Legislative Yuan until the middle of next month.

An interpellation session with the new premier, meanwhile, is scheduled for early June.

The Constitution stipulates that the legislature should convene for two sessions each year — between February and May and again between September and December — but an extension is allowed.