President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should fulfill her campaign promise by having proposed amendments to the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) passed during this legislative session, the New Power Party (NPP) said yesterday.
The party issued the call to coincide with Freedom of Expression Day, which the government in 2016 designated to commemorate democracy advocate Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕), who died on April 7, 1989.
Many of the regulations in the act have been ruled unconstitutional by the Council of Grand Justices, NPP caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chi (邱顯智) said.
People are required to obtain permission before they can hold a protest, Chiu added, describing the legislation as archaic.
“To pass the amendments, the NPP has proposed changing the meeting agenda at the Legislative Yuan 26 times, but we failed. We hope the amendments will pass during this legislative session,” he said.
When campaigning for president in 2008, Tsai promised that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), regardless of whether it was the governing party, would propose amendments to the act to stop administrative abuse of power, but “that check has apparently bounced,” NPP Legislator Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said.
Tsai and the government should fulfill their promise to the public, which is the protection that a democratic government guarantees for its people, she said.
The act should protect people’s rights, rather than limiting them, NPP Legislator Claire Wang (王婉諭) said.
Rather than people having to obtain permission for a protest, the act should allow people to simply inform the police about their plan to hold a protest in advance without having to ask for permission, she said.
The party also supports removing the regulations banning protesters from approaching administrative buildings, as well as those allowing police to disperse crowds, Wang said.
The amendments would punish violent protesters in accordance with the Penal Code, rather than special administrative penalties, Wang added.
Law enforcement officers would be obligated to disclose their identities during a protest, she said.
Taiwan Association for Human Rights legal department director Wang Si (王曦) said that the association could not hold a rally at Kaohsiung Railway Station to support pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, because it could not secure all the documents needed to obtain permission.
Separately yesterday, Tsai marked Freedom of Expression Day in a Facebook post, saying that “a society with freedom of expression has the natural antibody, and a collective immunity, against fake news.”
Additional reporting by Su Yung-yao
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