05 Juil 2019 Taiwan Legal Update: Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law Enacted & Taiwan Extends Visa Free Access Program
Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law Enacted to Uphold Judicial Prestige and Restore Public Confidence
In view of recent high-profile cases, the Chief Executive of the Security Council has concerned himself with the potential damage to judicial prestige following instances where criminal defendants have been able to flee Taiwan.
The Security Council has reassured the public that in the future, it will actively seek to prevent the escape of criminal defendants from the system. The new amendments are part of this attempt.
After examining the current system, it was concluded that anti-fleeing methods including the detention of defendants by the court and monitoring of suspects by the police personnel were not only lacking in the law but also costing unsustainable manpower and material resources. Consequently, it has been difficult to effectively prevent the defendant from escaping the country.
Research conducted by the Ministry and the Judiciary led to a draft amendment to the anti-evasion mechanism of the Criminal Procedure Law. The proposal was sent to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation and then amended in the third reading this week.
The anti-evasion mechanisms have been extended to include the addition of a variety of alternatives to custody when expressly authorized by judges and prosecutors. These measures include the introduction of appropriate technical equipment monitoring (such as electronic pedals), home imprisonment, suspension of passports and travel documents, the prohibition of travel, seizure of property and other custody substitutions. Also, depending on the circumstances of the defendant, the prosecution may be executed before the file is sent to the magistrates’ court to close the escape window. These provisions are likely to be applied to homicide cases or other crimes with sentencing that could amount to death, life imprisonment or more than two years in prison.
Nonetheless, is also important to consider that the prosecutor or the judge orders the defendant to be monitored or restricts their movement, they must examine the defendant’s human rights protection. This particularly applies to technological monitoring, which can occur for a considerable period of time. This type of monitoring will allow authorities to be aware of the defendant’s whereabouts at all times. It is anticipated that this will act as a deterrent to prevent escape and also, limit opportunities to do so.
This revision attempts to rationalize national penal power and a strong judiciary, with the protection of human rights. They achieved this by strengthening the current criminal procedure law and alternative punishment and the relevant referee enforcement system.
The Ministry of Justice has also stated that the criminal justice system can help limit instances where defendants escape before or during a trial by ensuring that everything is conducted in a timely manner, considering the circumstances of the case. In the future, the MOJ will cooperate with the court to effectively prevent the accused from escaping and uphold the notion of law and order.
Taiwan Extends Visa Free Access Program for Passport Holders from the Philippines, Thailand, Russia and Brunei
Taiwan has experienced significant growth in tourism from the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei and Russia over the last few years. This is in part due to the expansion of the New Southbound Policy and the following visa-free access for passport holders from these nations.
In order to aid the progression of the “New Southward Policy”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Executive Yuan agreed to extend the free visa access program. Other departments also held inter-ministerial meetings to jointly study and adjust visa treatment for the target countries of the « new southward policy » and Russia. The case was then reported to the Executive Yuan to seek their approval.
As it is increasingly closer to the expiry date (July 31st, 2019), it was agreed that visa-free measures for Thailand, Brunei, the Philippines and Russian nationals will be extended.
Since 2016, Taiwan has successively granted visa-friendly treatment to the target countries of the “New South-South Policy”. From inception, the number of new southbound nationals continues to steadily grow.
In the 2018, the population in Taiwan reached 2,607,982, an increase of 312,489 from 2,295,493 in 2017 (reflecting a growth rate of 13.61%). This could be as a result of the policy.
On the other hand, Taiwan and Russia only reinstated direct flights in May this year, extending the trial visa to Russia. It is expected to attract more Russian tourists to visit Taiwan and expand the interaction and exchanges between the two nations.
In addition to continuing to review the effectiveness of the measures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that they will continue to engage with the relevant government to improve the visa treatment of Taiwanese people in order to promote the overall interests of the country.
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