2017

Jerome A. Cohen. South China Morning Post. Taiwan's Landmark Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage Highlights the Gulf with Mainland China.

 

May 29, 2017 

 

The decision of Taiwan’s constitutional court last week, invalidating a civil code provision prohibiting same-sex marriage, will have profound implications. Domestically, it will spur the executive and legislative branches to break the political stalemate over the legislative action necessary to amend the code, so as to conform to the constitution’s guarantee of social equality for all. They must now fulfil this constitutional responsibility within two years.

The constitutional court has taken similar actions in other controversial situations in recent decades. For example, its decisions played a critical role in ending the power that Taiwan’s police long exercised outside the regular judicial system, to imprison anyone they chose to declare a “hooligan”. The court also required that the government end an abuse similar to the notorious “re-education through labour” recently abolished, at least in form, in mainland China.

The much more controversial same-sex decision reminds me of the landmark US Supreme Court Brown vs Board of Education ruling, which in 1954 led a divided America away from segregated schools and other previously legal segregation practices. Although Brown, like last week’s Taiwan case, generated a major backlash from many conservative groups, it proved a major step toward social progress.

Read the entire article here.

 

 

Jerome A. Cohen. ChinaFile. Comments on Lee Ming-che's Arrest.

April 20, 2017

A Taiwanese Man’s Detention in Guangdong Threatens a Key Pillar of Cross-Straits Relations

Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che mysteriously disappeared in China on March 19. Ten days later, Beijing, having ignored the Taiwan government’s frantic appeals for information through prescribed channels, finally admitted that Lee has been placed in official custody on suspicion of “endangering state security.”

Yet, even today, a month later, virtually nothing more is known about Lee’s situation. Where is he being detained and by whom? What evidence justifies his detention? Does he have a right to meet his family, see a lawyer, and consult a Taiwan official? How long can he be held until charged with an offense or released? Can he get a fair trial? Why did Beijing not promptly notify Taipei of Lee’s detention, as required by their Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement, a compact in force since it was concluded in 2009? Why has Beijing gone to great lengths to avoid cooperating with Taipei?

Lee was “disappeared” while entering Mainland China from Macau. A former worker for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and more recently an administrator at a Taipei community college, he has been a long-term volunteer for Taiwanese human rights NGOs. He often discussed human rights, democracy, and Taiwan’s experience on Chinese social media, called for support for the families of detained Chinese human rights activists, sent Taiwanese books on history, literature, and social sciences to Chinese friends, and traveled to the mainland every year to see them.

 

Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che mysteriously disappeared in China on March 19. Ten days later, Beijing, having ignored the Taiwan government’s frantic appeals for information through prescribed channels, finally admitted that Lee has been placed in official custody on suspicion of “endangering state security.” Yet, even today, a month later, virtually nothing more is known about Lee’s situation. Where is he being detained and by whom? What evidence justifies his detention? Does he have a right to meet his family, see a lawyer, and consult a Taiwan official? How long can he be held until charged with an offense or released? Can he get a fair trial? Why did Beijing not promptly notify Taipei of Lee’s detention, as required by their Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement, a compact in force since it was concluded in 2009? Why has Beijing gone to great lengths to avoid cooperating with Taipei? Lee was “disappeared” while entering Mainland China from Macau. A former worker for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and more recently an administrator at a Taipei community college, he has been a long-term volunteer for Taiwanese human rights NGOs. He often discussed human rights, democracy, and Taiwan’s experience on Chinese social media, called for support for the families of detained Chinese human rights activists, sent Taiwanese books on history, literature, and social sciences to Chinese friends, and traveled to the mainland every year to see them.

Read the entire article here.

Jerome A. Cohen. Storm Media Group. 孔傑榮專文:北京錯估逮捕李明哲的後果

June 06, 2017

日前不幸消息傳來,中華人民共和國以「顛覆國家政權罪」「逮捕」了臺灣人權活動人士李明哲。這亟需我們進行反思和進一步評論。       

 

首先值得注意的是,北京在宣布正式「逮捕」前已經將李明哲隔離監禁了六十八天(按:見刊此時已經八十天)。這再次表明,中國國家安全部和公安系統如今頻繁使用「監視居住」手段,來規避中國《刑事訴訟法》所規定的普通拘留或逮捕程序的時限。即便警察扭曲解釋了《刑事訴訟法》,那至多也只能允許他們在檢察院正式作出逮捕決定之前拘留嫌疑人三十七天。按照國際標準,這一拘留時間已經遠遠長於正常的期限。然而,現在警察只要聲稱當事人涉嫌危害國家安全,就能在提請檢察院批准「逮捕」之前,通過監視居住這一強制措施關押嫌疑人長達六個月。此外,如同警察在其他一些涉及人權律師案件中的作法,他們甚至可以再次或多次更新為期六個月的監視居住,以長期拘留嫌疑人。這無疑是對《刑事訴訟法》的嘲弄。

其次,如臺灣陸委會簡要指出,圍繞李明哲被捕的情況進一步證實,北京方面自從臺灣新任總統蔡英文一年前就職以來,一直拒絕執行重要的《海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議》。中國不但沒有按照協議及時通報臺灣當局李明哲被限制人身自由的訊息,而且在近十周的監禁後,仍然沒有安排家屬探視。臺灣的海峽交流基金會,表面上雖然屬於半官方機構,但被兩岸授權負責執行所謂「非官方」的兩岸協議。而如今,在北京置之不理的情況下,海基會要求中國政府保護李明哲的權利並公布支持其指控的相關證據。之前在臺灣前總統馬英九執政時期與中國執法機關保持良好合作關係的臺灣法務部,現淪落到只能通過電子郵件向中國檢察院要求在調查期間保障李明哲的身體健康、人身安全和司法程序中的權利。至少在名義上,檢察院擁有對全能的秘密警察進行監督的權力。

Read the entire article here.