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Legislature begins vote on transitional justice bills

2017/12/05 15:00:15

CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 5 (CNA) The Legislative Yuan on Tuesday began a vote on draft bills on promoting transitional justice after a debate laid bare sharp divisions among lawmakers on what exactly constitutes historical injustices and how to address them.

The debate lasted for about two hours during which lawmakers took turns to speak in their allotted time of three minutes.

After that, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) called for a vote on the bills that passed committee reviews in June 2016, hoping to push through their version of the measures.

The main difference between the versions lies in the scope of transitional justice. The DPP's version is limited to the period of authoritarian rule under the former Kuomintang (KMT) regime.

The period was specified as between Aug. 15, 1945, when Japan's colonial rule of Taiwan ended, and April 30, 1991, when the decree for national mobilization against China's Communist Party, issued in 1948 by the KMT regime amid China's civil war, was rescinded.

The DPP said its version has four objectives -- to recover and declassify archives to restore the historical truth, to remove authoritarian symbols and preserve heritages that served the purpose of dehumanization, to address non-judicial measures imposed on victims, and to retrieve ill-gotten party assets.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the purpose of the bill was to face history to refrain from repeating past mistakes and pursue reconciliation.

More than 100 countries in the world have completed transitional justice processes, he said, but in Taiwan, while monetary compensation has been provided to victims and their families, no perpetrators have been held responsible, he said.

"We must heal what has scarred Taiwan to seek unity and move forward," he contended.

The KMT's proposal specified that transitional justice measures also be applied to the period of Japanese colonial rule to demand that the Japanese government take responsibility for infringements of the human rights of aborigines, comfort women, and Taiwanese drafted into the Japanese Army during World War II.

Without the inclusion of the Japanese colonial era, transitional justice will simply become a political tool against the KMT, said KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆).

The DPP's version, if passed, would give a transitional justice committee a mandate to search the KMT in the name of retrieving political archives without having to seek court permission in advance, Lai said.

Lawmakers of aboriginal communities also demanded that historical injustices to indigenous peoples since the era of Japanese rule be addressed under the bills.

As the DPP controls a majority in the Legislature, a vote on the name and first article of the bills saw the passage of the DPP's versions. The rest of the articles will be voted on article by article in the afternoon session that began at 1:30 p.m.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)