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Talk of the day -- Should the assembly act be updated?

Talk of the day -- Should the assembly act be updated?

Instead of handing out a verdict Thursday on a 2008 "Wild Strawberries" street protest, a Taipei District Court judge halted hearings on the case and said he will file for a Constitutional Court interpretation of the constitutionality of several parts of the Assembly and Parade Act.
The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the issue: Liberty Times: The Taipei District Court was supposed to deliver a verdict on a case in which Lee Ming-tsung, an assistant professor at National Taiwan University's Department of Sociology, was indicted for leading an illegal rally at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall complex near the Presidential Office in November 2008.
But Chen Su-fan, a trial judge handling the case, decided to suspend hearings and instead ask grand justices to clarify the constitutionality of certain clauses in the Assembly and Parade Act.
Chen said Article 4 and Article 6 of the act, which prohibit people from advocating communism or secessionism during street parades or mounting protest rallies in the vicinity of the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan and other major government agencies, may infringe upon rights to assembly and freedom of speech protected by the Constitution.
Those clauses and some other provisions of the act may also violate the spirit and principle of two international conventions on human rights protection that Taiwan promulgated last year, Chen added.
Lee hailed Chen's ruling, saying he was happier to see such as a decision than he would be if he were acquitted.
"The move marked a major step forward in our country's democratic development and human rights protection, " Lee said, adding that investigations or court hearings on all other cases involving alleged violations of the act should also be halted pending a Constitutional Court ruling on Chen's application.
The Taipei Prosecutors Office, which indicted Lee for initiating the sit-in at Liberty Square at the CKS Memorial Hall complex on Nov.
7, 2008, said it respects the district court's decision. Lee led a protest against what he called excessive police force on pro-Taiwan independence activists a day earlier over the arrival of China's top negotiator with Taiwan. (Sept. 10, 2010).
China Times: In the process of dealing with the case, Chen said he found that Article 4 of the act, which bans demonstrators from advocating communism or Taiwan independence during street parades, and Article 6, which singles out "off-limits areas" for protest rallies, may be stark violations of Article 14 of the Constitution, which protects citizens' rights to assembly and freedom of speech.
Chen expressed regret that the Legislative Yuan failed to amend those controversial stipulations when it last amended the assembly act in June 2002 in response to a grand justices interpretation of certain articles of the act in 1998.
Meanwhile, Lee said he hopes the judge's latest ruling will inspire sensible discussion on whether the act should be updated or phased out completely.
A group of law professors echoed Lee's call for grand justices to hand out a clear-cut ruling on the constitutionality of controversial articles in the assembly act. (Sept. 10, 2010).
(By Sofia Wu)




Updated : 2020-12-02 15:15 GMT+08:00