Legal reform groups and a law professor yesterday condemned Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) and the Taipei police force over abuses of power and initiating litigation against protesters and three journalists in an incident on Thursday night in which activists broke into the Ministry of Education building to protest over proposed adjustments to curriculum guidelines for high-school textbooks.
Wu said that 33 individuals, including the three journalists, were to be charged.
Human-rights lawyer Chan Shun-kuei (詹順貴) said the police had clearly overstepped their bounds and had not only infringed upon freedom of the press, but some police officers might have violated the law in confining the freedom of movement of members of the public.
“The intent of the law is to punish people who intrude into properties without good reason or cause. However, the journalists were doing their job, gathering news; they had legitimate reasons to be there,” Chan said.
“The police forcibly confiscated mobile phones, cameras and other tools used by the journalists to gather news. The journalists were then prevented from contacting anybody. These are violations of confining the movement of citizens. I strongly recommend the three journalists take up litigation against the police,” Chan added.
National Taiwan University law professor Chen Chih-lung (陳志龍) also criticized the questionable application of judicial power.
“The journalists were doing media work, for the benefit of thepublic’s right to know. That was why they entered the education ministry to take photographs and make video recordings,” he said.
Although their actions could be construed as intrusion of property, the law does grant journalists the right to gather news, and the police officers’ actions in obstructing their work could be construed as unlawful, Chen said.
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