The Executive Yuan yesterday approved a draft bill to prevent stalking, which, if passed by the Legislative Yuan, would be the first of its kind in the nation.
The Cabinet expects the legislature to pass the draft legislation by May 28, the last day of the current legislative session, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a regular news briefing.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has instructed the Executive Yuan to implement the law six months after its promulgation, and not in a year as originally planned, Lo said.
Local media reports said that Lo, who is also a minister without portfolio, was largely responsible for hammering out the bill after the murder earlier this month of a Pingtung woman — allegedly by her stalker — drew calls for action from lawmakers.
The draft bill includes stipulations for specific protective orders, in a departure from a proposal submitted by the National Police Agency in October last year, which critics said treated stalking as equivalent to harassment and did not provide an immediate remedy for at-risk victims.
According to the latest draft bill, stalking would be punishable by up to three years in prison, which is commutable to a maximum fine of NT$300,000 (US$10,700).
Stalking with a weapon is an aggravated offense punishable by up to five years in prison, which is commutable to a maximum fine of NT$500,000, it says.
The draft bill defines stalking as a range of unwanted behavior that has a sexual or sex-related motive, is persistent or repeated, and engender fear in victims that could disrupt their normal lives.
Stalking includes surveilling, observing and following the victim in person or via another, picketing domiciles, workplaces, schools and other places frequented by the victim, and repeating unwanted demands for an intimate relationship, the draft bill says.
Other acts of stalking include sending unwanted messages, images, recordings, goods or services via the Internet or other means; repeated use of discriminatory or hateful language or actions meant to intimidate, mock, threaten or denigrate the victim, among others, it stipulates.
After establishing the credibility of a complaint in a stalking allegation, police should issue a cease and desist warning to the accused stalker, which is valid for two years.
If the alleged perpetrator does not comply with the warning, the victim, police or prosecutor could file for a protective order in court.
Breaking an anti-stalking protective order is a separate offense punishable by three years in prison, which could be commuted to fine of NT$300,000.
Furthermore, prosecutors may ask a court to detain alleged stalkers if the evidence against them is strong and if there is reason to believe they might persist in stalking their victims.
Spouses, direct blood relatives, coinhabitants and close associates could be charged with stalking under the provisions of the draft bill.
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