21 Juin 2019 Taiwan Legal Update: Amendments to The Referendum Act Enacted & Taiwan and Poland Sign Agreement of Criminal Judicial Cooperation
Amendments to The Referendum Act Enacted
On Monday, the Legislative Yuan amended The Referendum Law. Key revisions include:
- Referendums will be held once every two years, on the fourth Saturday in August
- The time for checking the book changed from 30 to 60 days
- Referendums must be announced 90 days prior (previously 28 days before polling)
- Relevant legislative or administrative organs must submit their opinions within 45 days. Simultaneously, the competent authorities are urged to implement the electronic linkage as soon as possible.
Henceforth, there will be no contentious referendums held alongside elections. It separates referendum years from election years in the future, as the presidential and local government elections are all held in even-numbered years.
The Executive has explained that the rationale behind this is to limit confusion during election years and further legislative and political stability.
Taiwan’s referendum law was also revised in 2017, drastically reducing the threshold for succession and adoption. This paved the way for 10 referendums coupled with local elections in 2018, resulting in public criticism. Voting was too long and complicated. It even amounted to contested results, most notably the Taipei Mayoral election. the table. These amendments seek to resolve disputes surrounding the adoption of the marriage act whereby the results of the referendum are still being disputed.
Some civic groups advocated the content of the revision of the law to include more citizen review mechanisms so that people have the opportunity to discuss the legal effects of the proposal itself and have more substantive discussions.
Taiwan and Poland sign Agreement of Criminal Judicial Cooperation”
On June 17, Taiwan and Poland signed the « Agreement on Criminal Judicial Cooperation between the Polish Representative Office and the Polish Taipei Office » in Taipei. This establishes mutual assistance in international criminal justice between the two jurisdictions.
The « Taiwan Criminal Justice Cooperation Agreement” was negotiated for four years. Its scope extends to criminal mutual legal assistance; extradition; transfer of prisoners; legal and practical insights of crimes and information sharing for crime prevention. It, therefore, is a broad criminal justice mutual assistance agreement.
Because the commensurate democracy and legal system, social security and human rights protection, future cooperation should be seamless. Therefore, this agreement was signed as a result of mutual trust, in the hopes of closer cooperation between the two countries, so that the two sides can strengthen the effectiveness of combating transnational crimes through various cooperation matters provided by this Agreement.
It is an important milestone in Taiwan-Poland cooperation in criminal justice. The « Taiwan Criminal Justice Cooperation Agreement » is the first broad criminal justice mutual assistance agreement signed between Taiwan and EU member states. Prior to this, Taiwan signed a bilateral cross-border transfer of prisoners with Germany and the United Kingdom, facilitating for the transfer of seven German and one British prisoner home to continue serving their sentences.
Aside from the transfer of the inmates, the agreement also includes narrow criminal justice mutual assistance and extradition, a breakthrough development.
The provisions of this Agreement for mutual assistance in the narrow sense of criminal justice mutual assistance include:
- Obtaining testimony or statements
- Providing documents, records and articles as evidence.
- Determining where the person is located or confirm his or her identity.
- Delivery of documents.
- Performing search and seizure requests.
- Investigating items and premises.
- Assisting with procedures prohibiting disposition or confiscation of property.
Among them, the first two points allowed the two sides to conduct substantive « Joint Investigation Teams » to break through the restrictions of the International Criminal Judicial Mutual Assistance Law and obtain the basis of the law.
This Agreement is the fifth criminal mutual legal assistance agreement signed by Taiwan. The other four agreements are signed with the United States, the Philippines, South Africa and mainland China. The first three are narrow criminal mutual legal assistance agreements, that is, they do not include extradition and the transfer of prisoners; the cross-strait joint crimes and mutual legal assistance agreements signed between Taiwan and mainland China do not include extradition.
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