Amnesty International Report 2015/16 - The State of the World's Human Rights - Taiwan

Freedom of peaceful assembly continued to be curtailed. Executions were carried out and death sentences imposed.

Freedom of assembly

On 10 February, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office indicted 119 people in connection with a protest movement against the adoption of a trade and services deal with China. The so-called “Sunflower Movement” had organized protests that took place from 18 March to 10 April 2014 at the Legislative Yuan (Parliament), as well as the occupation of the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) and other similar protests that year. The charges included instigating others to commit a crime, trespassing, obstruction of officers discharging their duty and violating the Assembly and Parade Act. On 5 May, a further 39 people were indicted on the charge of trespassing, in relation to the occupation of the Executive Yuan. Of the 39 people indicted, 24 had filed private criminal lawsuits against former Premier Jiang Yi-huah and other high-ranking officials, seeking justice and accountability for injuries sustained in the clearing of the Executive Yuan complex.

Courts continued to reject the private criminal lawsuits against the former Premier and other high-ranking officials, but in August lawyer Lin Ming-hui won NT$300,000 (approximately US$9,200) in an administrative lawsuit seeking state compensation for a head injury sustained in the Executive Yuan incident. The Taipei City government chose not to appeal. Another 30 people subsequently filed lawsuits seeking state compensation.

By the end of the year no thorough, independent and impartial investigation had taken place into the police use of excessive force during the removal of protesters from the Executive Yuan and surrounding areas on 23/24 March 2014, or into actions of the authorities during the “Sunflower Movement” protests as a whole.

On 23 July, three journalists who were covering a demonstration at the Ministry of Education were arrested on charges of trespassing when they followed a splinter group of protesters who had climbed over a fence and entered the Ministry building. After the journalists refused to pay bail, they were released without charge. On the following day the Mayor of Taipei apologized for the “violation of freedom of reporting” that had occurred.

Death penalty

Amid public anger at the murder of an eight-year-old girl in Taipei, the authorities carried out unrelated executions even though in some instances the appeals process had not been exhausted. The Minister of Justice denied that the executions were carried out to assuage public sentiment and stated they had been planned well in advance.

The High Court rejected a motion for a retrial in the case of Chiou Ho-shun, the longest-serving death row inmate in Taiwan, who had been sentenced to death in 1989 for robbery, kidnapping and murder. Chiou Ho-shun’s lawyers had requested a retrial after two police officers said they were willing to testify that Chiou Ho-shun had told them at the time that he had been tortured and forced to “confess”.

In September, the High Court overturned the conviction of Hsu Tzu-chiang, who had been on death row for 20 years for kidnapping and murder. Hsu Tzu-chiang was found not guilty due to discrepancies in the testimony of witnesses against him, and lack of forensic evidence. In the same month the High Prosecutors Office appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which was pending at the end of the year.