Legal experts and media representatives at a public hearing yesterday opposed a proposal to punish media outlets for divulging details of cases that are under investigation or at trial, while crime victims’ rights advocates agreed with it.
The proposal was made at a National Conference of Judicial Reform meeting organized by the Presidential Office last year.
Participants discussed more effective ways to protect the secrecy of criminal investigations, prevent trials by media and protect the privacy of victims and suspects.
Participants asked the National Communications Commission (NCC) to assess the possibility of stipulating penalties in the Radio and Television Act (廣播電視法) and other relevant regulations against media outlets that have divulged too much information on cases under investigation or at trial, such as releasing explicit images of suspects, victims and crime scenes.
Claire Wang (王琬諭), whose daughter was beheaded in New Taipei City’s Neihu District (內湖) in 2016, said she believed there should be limits and standards on the coverage of criminal cases.
“Images of my daughter’s body — whether her body was covered in a cloth or pixelated — appeared time and again on television for days after she was killed. Some online images were not even edited,” she said, asking people for empathy.
Not only was her daughter’s death intensively reported, but some media outlets disclosed her family’s personal information, including where they live, Wang said.
However, Shih Shin University law professor Lu Li-hsiang (呂理翔) said that penalties would not help.
“Some large media groups might think it better to report the case in detail and pay the fine, because the profits gained by reporting the information far exceeds any fines,” he said.
The principle of secrecy of criminal investigations only applies to prosecutors, police and criminal investigators, not media outlets, National Chengchi University law professor Her Lai-jier (何賴傑) said.
However, the problem must be addressed because people are soon to be called to attend trials as jury members, he said.
There should be areas in the offices of prosecutors, police and investigators that journalists are barred from entering, Her said, adding that these agencies should have official media spokespeople.
“They should also keep records of statements made in public,” he added.
An independent media disciplinary committee should be established to review cases, he said, adding that the committee could turn the case over to a criminal court to determine if a media outlet should be fined for infringing the confidentiality of a criminal investigation.
Former political commentator Fan Li-da (范立達) said that the penalties stipulated by the NCC would not solve the problem because it only regulates broadcast media, not print or online media.
No legal correspondent can write a comprehensive story without sources from the courts or other authorities, Fan said.
Reporters should be educated about what they can cover in legal cases and particularly about protecting human rights, Fan said.
However, adding warnings to news stories would be superfluous, Fan said.
“This would only show that the government wants to belittle people’s intelligence and treat them like children,” he said.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
NEW CASE REPORTED: A man who returned from South Africa on a flight with the nation’s 460th and 461st cases has now tested positive for the disease The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that there is no need to test all arrivals to the nation for COVID-19, a policy the Executive Yuan supports. The center reported one new imported case, bringing the nation’s tally of confirmed cases to 477. The new case is a Taiwanese man in his 60s who on July 25 returned from South Africa, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is also the CECC’s spokesman. The man had returned to Taiwan on the same flight as cases Nos. 460 and 461, reported on July 27, Chuang said. On July 24,
More than half of Taiwan’s middle-aged population, those aged between 40 and 64, have at least one of the “three highs” — high blood pressure, high blood lipids or high blood sugar — and an unhealthy waist size, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said, adding that more than 30 percent also have metabolic syndrome. The HPA, the Taiwan Millennium Health Foundation and local health departments are cooperating to encourage people to regularly measure their waist circumference and keep it at a healthy size — no more than 90cm for adult men and no more than 80cm for adult women. Taichung Veterans General
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’