Guards at Taipei Prison inflicted violence on inmates through use of Tasers and pepper spray, a Control Yuan report said on Thursday, as it ordered the Ministry of Justice to conduct a thorough investigation.
Control Yuan members Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠) and Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲) found the physical assault and violence against inmates had mainly taken place at two wings of the prison, but also cited administrator negligence, as the prison facility did not have surveillance cameras installed in all of its areas.
At a news conference on Thursday, Kao and Wang said they received complaints filed by inmates and their families, leading to the probe they carried out on the facility. They made unannounced visits to Taipei Prison to check video footage, interview inmates, guards and staff, and also ex-inmates who were released after finishing their prison sentences.
Photo: Lo Pei-de, Taipei Times
“Our finding has confirmed on the filed complaints, that inmates had their rights infringed by prison guards. Some incidents had inmates being handcuffed without given reasons, and then the guards subjected the victims to physical assault, including the use of Tasers and pepper spray,” Kao said.
“In some instances, the guards allowed other inmates to dish out beatings on the handcuffed victims, who had their hands bound, and immobilized. The actions also included punching on the head, grabbing the victim and bouncing them against a wall, which were seen in the seized video footage,” he said.
Kao said the probe confirmed a complaint where one guard was said to have allowed other prison service staff to physically attack certain inmates. Kao added that the attack was suspected to have been carried out as a punishment, or as revenge from previous encounters, which allegedly were condoned by the warden and his subordinate administrators.
Furthermore, Kao and Wang cited evidence and interview testimony that the inmates who sustained bodily harm and injuries were forced to sign a declaration form, stating that they were not injured, and that a refusal to sign this would have subjected them to more beatings.
The report cited improper violent actions and wrongdoing by guards at the two wings, along with negligence in their official work duty, while highlighting the negligence of the Taipei Prison warden and subordinate administrators for condoning physical assault, infringing upon the inmates’ human rights.
Taipei Prison is the major incarceration facility in northern Taiwan, which was originally located inside the city until its relocation to its current site at Taoyuan’s Gueishan District (龜山) in 1963, Kao said, adding that the prison currently holds convicted criminals who are serving lengthy sentences, along with repeat offenders.
The report showed that the prison’s management had exploited loopholes in the system, such as the lack of total coverage of a surveillance camera system at the facility, and how some staff had interacted with inmates for cleaning, meals and other essential services.
Kao and Wang also found that Taipei Prison still has inadequate medical care for foreign nationals housed within its facility. They recommended that the Ministry of Justice improve scrutiny as well as medical personnel and resources, which would help provide foreign inmates with proper healthcare and clinical services.
In response, Taipei Prison officials said they would enhance education and training of all guards and service staff, and are to strictly enforce regulations so that punishments, including use of restraining devices, would only be carried out by trained guards tasked with the work.
The officials said successful fund requests received since 2018 have improved the facility’s surveillance camera coverage. They added that it is expected to replace the old surveillance equipment, implementing a “smart monitoring system” for complete coverage by the end of this year to ensure transparency throughout the facility.
The Ministry of Justice also issued a release, stating it would take the findings into consideration, and would mandate Taipei Prison and the Agency of Corrections to fully cooperate when a judicial investigation gets underway, and punish those staff found guilty of negligence and wrongdoing in the incidents cited in the report and confirmed through the investigation.
AGGRESSION: China’s latest intrusions set a new benchmark for its ‘gray zone’ tactics and possibly a new pattern that it would attempt to normalize, a researcher said China’s latest military exercises represent a new challenge to Taiwan’s legal authority to demarcate its borders in the Taiwan Strait, a defense expert said, adding that the fleets in the latest exercises were likely the most powerful the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ever assembled. The PLA conducted military exercises from Sunday last week to 6am on Friday, which encompassed large swathes of the western Pacific, including the Taiwan Strait and waters off the Philippines and Guam, National Policy Foundation associate research fellow Chieh Chung (揭仲) said on Friday. The Ministry of National Defense said that it detected 70 warship and 162 aircraft
DOMESTIC MARKET: To protect the livelihoods of local egg farmers, the government adopted a new method for releasing imported eggs, the agriculture minister said More than 54 million imported eggs will be disposed, as their expiration date has passed, Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said yesterday. Chen made the remarks at a news conference in Taipei, explaining the flow of imported eggs following recent controversies regarding the products. The ministry introduced a special egg import program to address a nationwide egg shortage earlier this year. However, controversies have risen in recent weeks. These included an accusation that the government helped some egg importing companies over others, eggs imported from Brazil that had an incorrect expiration date, and egg shipments from Brazil that were found
PACIFIC OCEAN: Defense experts have warned that the ‘Shandong,’ China’s second largest aircraft carrier, poses a serious threat to eastern Taiwan’s defenses The drills conducted by the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong in the Western Pacific last week were more aimed at showcasing China’s military capabilities to the US rather than toward Taiwan, a Taiwanese defense expert said yesterday. Lin Yin-yu (林穎佑), an assistant professor at Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said the drills which involved dozens of warplanes sought to test China’s anti-access and area denial capabilities should the US and its allies attempt to interfere in a cross-strait conflict. Lin said that the latest Chinese drills coincided with a joint maritime exercise conducted by the US, South Korea
Thousands of bottles of Sriracha have been returned or destroyed after the discovery of excessive sulfur dioxide, a bleaching agent, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Tuesday. About 12,600 bottles totaling 9,991.8kg of the hot sauce imported from the US by Emporium Corp (河洛企業) were flagged at the border for containing illegal levels of sulfur dioxide, the FDA said in its regular border inspection announcement. Inspectors discovered 0.5g per kilogram of the common bleaching agent and preservative, higher than the 0.03g permitted, it said. As it is the first time within six months the product has been flagged, Sriracha products from