Taiwan to build database for work of transitional justice

The database will be part of the Transitional Justice Commission's effort to provide the whole truth about what happened during the White Terror period: a TJC official

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The Transitional Justice Commission holds a press conference on Dec. 17 (Source: CNA)

The Transitional Justice Commission holds a press conference on Dec. 17 (Source: CNA)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Transitional Justice Commission (TJC) is planning to build a public database where details of political prosecution cases under the authoritarian regime will be searchable by the public, including information on the identity of victims and those who were responsible for the victims’ woes.

During a press conference held on Monday, TJC Spokesperson Yeh Hung-ling (葉虹靈) said the database will aim to provide the whole truth about what happened during the White Terror era. The period witnessed large-scaled and systematic governmental suppression of political dissidents following the Feb. 28 Incident of 1947, and it lasted through the lifting of martial law in 1987 on Taiwan.

“When people talk about transitional justice, it is obvious that there were hundreds and thousands of victims during the White Terror era, but there is little information about those who were responsible” for political suppression or the violation of human rights, said Yeh.

“The main purpose of building a database is that history and truth belong to the people, not to the commission nor the government,” emphasized Yo Po-hsiang (尤伯祥), an adjunct member of the commission who is also a practicing lawyer.

The database will allow the public to understand what was done under the state apparatus that left an estimated 140,000 people to suffer political persecution, with 3,000 to 4,000 among them eventually being executed. It will also contain information on those who worked for the authoritarian government and thus contributed to the suppression of people.

According to Yeh, the database intends to answer four major questions surrounding the work of transitional justice — who the victims were, how they were politically suppressed, what the government did, and who were responsible for the cases of suppression and human rights violations.

Asked whether there will be a potential invasion of personal data with the launch of the database, Yeh said the database will combine and compile documents and files already disclosed by various government institutes, so there will be no privacy issues.