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Human Rights in Taiwan and China Today (3): Speech by Hon. David Kilgour

Posted by Author on December 23, 2008

Paper prepared by Hon. David Kilgour, J.D. for An International Forum on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Garden Villa Hotel, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, 11 December, 2008 – (cont’d)

5.The letter states that it is untrue that Taiwan’s judicial system is susceptible to political manipulation.  If this is the case, how can it be explained that in the past weeks, only DPP officials have been detained and given inhumane treatment such as handcuffing and lengthy questioning, while obvious cases of corruption by members of the KMT – including in the Legislative Yuan — are left untouched by the prosecutors or at best stalled in the judicial process?

We may also refer to expressions of concern by Prof. Jerome Cohen and by lawyer Nigel Li, who expressed his deep concerns about the preventive detentions in an editorial in the China Times on November 9th 2008.  In his editorial, Mr. Li praised the remarks made by prosecutor Chen Rui-ren, who was part of the legal team prosecuting the special fund cases, that the prosecutors’ offices should “avoid the appearance of targeting only one particular political group.”

The fact that the Special Investigation Task Force was set up under the DPP Administration or that the prosecutor general was nominated by President Chen is not at issue here.  The problem is that the present system is being used in a very partial fashion.

We may add that the fact that you yourself have publicly discussed the content of the cases does create a serious imbalance in the playing field, and undermines the basic dictum that a person should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  Under the present circumstances it is hard to see how the persons involved – including former President Chen Shui-bian – can have a fair trial in Taiwan.

6.Lastly, the statement by the US State Department is interpreted in the letter as an “endorsement” of Taiwan’s legal system and the procedures followed.  It should be noted that in international   diplomatic language, the term “we have every expectation” means “we are concerned and we will watch the situation closely.” “For the past two decades, Taiwan has faced a difficult situation internationally. What has given Taiwan important credibility in democratic countries around the world has been its democratization. We fear that the current judicial procedures being used in Taiwan endanger this democratization, and endanger the goodwill that Taiwan has developed internationally.”

“In conclusion: we do remain deeply disturbed by the erosion of justice in Taiwan, and express the sincere hope and expectation that your government will maintain fair and impartial judicial practices and quickly correct the present injustices.  As an editorial in the November 20th issue of the London-based Economist indicated, Taiwan is “hungry for justice”, and we also hope that your government will be willing to initiate judicial reform which would move Taiwan towards a fully fair and impartial judicial system which earns the respect and admiration from other democratic countries around the world. “

Respectfully yours, ” 22 Signatories of the November 4th Joint Statement

As a friend of Taiwan and someone who was both a prosecutor and defense counsel in Canada before  entering politics, I am also deeply concerned by the contents of the letter just quoted. I hope Justice Minister Wang will have substantive answers to the points raised by these 22 other friends of Taiwan. Hopefully she will also address the related serious points made in the joint statement issued on Nov. 21 by the Taiwan Bar Association, the Taipei Bar Association, and the Judicial Reform Foundation. He appears not yet to have provided substantive responses in the following:

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2008/11/26/2003429618

http://etaiwannews.com/etn/print.php

http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/etn/news_content.php?id=798899

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– Original from http://david-kilgour.com/

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