KMT to propose death for child abuse

CHILD ABUSE::Violence against children who cannot fight back should be seen as a form of murder, a children’s rights advocate said, calling for more power to be given to police

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Jan 20, 2019 - Page 3

The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) legislative caucus yesterday unveiled proposals for amendments to the Criminal Code, including that murderers of children should be given the death penalty.

In the wake of several high-profile child abuse and murder cases, lawmakers across party lines have proposed amendments to increase punishments for child abuse under the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法) and the Criminal Code.

KMT legislators Alicia Wang (王育敏), Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) and Hsu Chih-jung (徐志榮) each tendered a draft amendment to the code stipulating life sentences or the death penalty for people guilty of murdering minors younger than 12.

Another proposal by Wang calls for people who treat minors younger than 16 in a way that could hamper their mental or physical development, leading to their death, to be sentenced to death.

Wang and several other KMT lawmakers proposed amendments to the act that would require daycare centers to have surveillance cameras and set fines for centers that fail to check carers’ credentials before hiring them, as well as paramedics and social workers who fail to report potential child abuse.

Speaking at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan, KMT caucus secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) called on social workers to seek out and visit high-risk families where child abuse is more likely to occur — such as financially disadvantaged families or those with adolescent parents who might lack childcare knowledge — and conduct routine follow-ups to ensure that children in such families are safe.

The caucus asks the Executive Yuan to create an ad hoc project — an intergovernmental effort by the Ministry of Education, the National Police Agency and the Ministry of Health and Welfare — to improve child protection, he said.

As of yesterday, lawmakers had submitted 16 draft amendments to the code and 29 to the act, he said.

To speed up the review process, Tseng recommended sending the drafts from a preliminary review to cross-caucus negotiations and then to a second review.

The nation’s social safety net is lacking 549 social workers, who are responsible for conducting family interviews, Wang said, calling on Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) to quickly fill the posts.

The death penalty must be an option when meting out punishments for child abusers, she said, adding that it was a way to pursue justice.

Taiwan Children’s Rights Association director-general Wang Wei-chun (王薇君) agreed with Alicia Wang’s remarks, saying that violence against a child that cannot fight back is a form of murder.

Police should be given the authority to intervene in child abuse cases, as social workers do not have the power to do so, which can hamper the prevention of abuse cases, she said.