Two members of an independent human rights team arrived in Taipei to review the human rights case of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and visit him at Taoyuan General Hospital yesterday.
Human right activists Hans Wahl and Harreld Dinkins visited Chen at the hospital accompanied by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Kuan Bi-Ling (管碧玲) and Mark Chen (陳唐山). Leading the group of visitors — though not visiting Chen Shui-bian — is Jack Healey, the director of Washington-based Human Rights Action Center.
Wahl told reporters they were assessing Chen Shui-bian’s state of health and the conditions of his imprisonment, including his prison routine, the size of his cell, his opportunity to exercise and whether he had a bed to sleep on.
Wahl said government authorities would likely improve Chen Shui-bian’s jail conditions, adding that the group’s efforts were purely concerned with his human rights and that politics played no role in their actions.
Wahl said universal human rights standards should remain constant, even for those who are incarcerated.
Meanwhile, the hospital said that the Chen Shui-bian had a new Foley catheter fitted late on Sunday as he again had difficulty urinating. The hospital also arranged for Chen Shui-bian to undergo a spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test yesterday.
The hospital told a press conference in the afternoon that Chen Shui-bian should be transferred to a major medical center for further check-ups and treatment.
The hospital said it could treat the former president’s urination problems, but because the hospital does not have latest equipment for neurology and psychiatry, he ought to be transferred to a major medical center.
The hospital said a 4mm-by-4mm trace of cerebral vascular trauma was found in his right frontal lobe on Friday, indicating the former president had had a minor stroke.
Chen Shui-bian, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption, was sent to Taoyuan General Hospital on Wednesday night after complaining of pain when urinating and was admitted for extensive examinations.
His family has said that according to doctors, people who have had a thrombotic stroke have a high chance of relapse within two or three years.
Meanwhile, the DPP caucus accused the Ministry of Justice as well as Taipei Prison of malfeasance and reiterated its appeal for Chen Shui-bian to receive “complete and professional medical treatment.”
All 40 DPP legislators signed a statement which demanded Chen Shui-bian be allowed to remain in the hospital until it is proved that his life is not in danger and also called for medical parole to be granted.
Without medical expertise, the ministry and Taipei Prison cannot guarantee that Chen Shui-bian will not suffer another stroke, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) told a press conference.
Even more intolerable is that while the prison allowed the former president to go on guarded visits to hospitals, it has always rushed the treatment process and prevented him from receiving complete physical examinations, Ker said.
“The prison always sends prison officials — not physicians — to make assessments and public announcements about Chen Shui-bian’s health,” Ker added.
The caucus also demanded that three medical experts chosen by Chen Shui-bian’s family — Mackay Memorial Hospital psychiatrist Chen Chiao-chi (陳喬琪), Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s vice superintendent Chen Shun-sheng (陳順勝) and National Cheng Kung University Hospital’s physician Lin Hsin-nan (林信男) — be allowed to join the ministry’s medical team.
DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) called for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to “put his personal hatred for Chen aside” and respect Chen’s medical and judicial human rights.
“Even if an inmate is scheduled to be executed tomorrow, you still have to ensure his health today if he is ill,” DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) added.