Members of the public can record or videotape policemen performing their duties in public places to safeguard their own interests, and such action will not be regarded as encroaching on the privacy of the police officers, if it is done in a reasonable way, the Ministry of Justice said.
The ministry issued the statement following recent heated discussions on whether people should be permitted to record or videotape policemen on duty, and whether such action should be considered obstruction of official police duty.
The controversy stemmed from an incident in September last year, when two college students were stopped by police in Greater Kaohsiung and given tickets for driving illegally modified scooters.
Throughout the incident, the students were filming the officers, and when they ignored the officers’ warning that they had to obtain the officers’ consent before filming, they were brought to a police station and served notices for obstructing the officers from performing their duty.
The incident caused a public outcry, which prompted Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) to issue a statement calling on the police to respect the rights of the public.
The ministry, in its latest statement, said that people reporting a crime to judicial authorities or who are being questioned cannot record or videotape the procedure, based on the principles of investigation confidentiality and presumption of innocence, and to protect the privacy of defendants.
However, cases of appeals, reporting or administrative investigations are divided into two classes: “open” and “closed-door” events.
In an “open” event, members of the public, based on the principle of safeguarding their personal interests, can make a recording or videotape, as long as they do not take a close-up shot of the police officer involved.
As for “closed-door” events, when someone wants to speak to the police in private, law enforcement authorities can, based on safety concerns, restrict or prohibit recording or videotaping.
The ministry said that whether such recording violates the law will be determined by law enforcement officials on a case-by-case basis.
Anyone threatening police officers on duty will face charges of obstructing the police.