The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed amendments to enable the confiscation of equipment used to dredge sand or gravel illegally to deter illegal dredging by Chinese ships.
The amendments to Article 36 of the Sand and Gravel Excavation Act (土石採取法) and Article 18 of the Act on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf of the Republic of China (中華民國專屬經濟海域及大陸礁層法) state that vessels or other machinery involved in illegal activities can be confiscated, regardless of whether they belong to the perpetrator.
The proposals were made by Democratic Progressive Party legislators in light of an incident in April last year involving a Chinese vessel found dredging without permission in the waters southwest of Penghu County’s Cimei Township (七美).
Photo copied by Yu Chao-fu, Taipei Times
The first ruling sentenced the captain to one year, 10 months in prison and ordered the confiscation of the dredging vessel.
The second ruling on the case upheld the prison sentence, but said there was no legal basis to confiscate the vessel, as there was no way to prove it belonged to the defendant.
The case is awaiting trial at the Supreme Court after prosecutors appealed the second ruling.
Taiwan expelled Chinese vessels that were dredging illegally in the nation’s waters 5,328 times from 2017 to 2021, Coast Guard Administration data show.
The legislature passed an amendment to the act in 2021, increasing the penalties to a maximum of seven years in jail and a fine of up to NT$100 million (US$3.19 million).
Following the amendment, such incidents declined from a peak of 3,991 in 2020 to 665 in 2021 and 224 last year.
The legislature yesterday also passed amendments to Article 54 of the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍刑法) to ban driving under the influence of drugs.
Those who use drugs, narcotics or other similar substances that prevent them from driving safely would face a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine of not more than NT$400,000.
Taiwan People’s Party Legislator Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠) yesterday said that he hoped the amendment would deter military personnel from driving under the influence of drugs, and help ensure the safety of the public and the armed forces.
Legislators also passed an amendment to the Military Camps Safety Maintenance Act (軍事營區安全維護條例) to prohibit surveying, photography, illustration, recorded and written descriptions, and other spying activities in military facilities.
Those who contravene the ban would face a prison sentence of up to three years.
Those who engage in such activities outside military facilities, but endanger the safety of the military would face a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000, the amendment says.
Military facilities refer to important military installations or agencies, as well as military exercises or military training areas set by the authorities, it says.
Military agencies refer to the Ministry of National Defense and its affiliated agencies, troops and schools, along with the National Security Bureau and the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, it says.
Commanders, officers on duty and non-commissioned officers can order forcible eviction or take other necessary measures against those who enter military facilities without permission, it says.
Offenders can be given a warning or face a fine of between NT$40,000 and NT$200,000, it says.
Fines can be imposed for each contravention if the offender refuses to leave after being warned, it says.
Those entering military facilities with certain items without the permission of military agencies — including cameras, observation equipment, guns, ammunition, knives or other dangerous items — and refusing to hand them over for safekeeping can face a fine of between NT$10,000 and NT$50,000, it says.
If sufficient factual evidence shows that a person is spying or collecting classified national security information or military or national defense secrets, they would be arrested and handed over to prosecutors or judicial officials, it says.
People will not be prohibited from taking photographs of or filming the takeoff and landing of fighter jets unless it endangers military operations and safety, it says.
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