The Legislative Yuan passed Dec. 5 a transitional justice act, marking a milestone in efforts to uncover truths, foster reconciliation and address injustices perpetrated during Taiwan’s authoritarian past.
Under the law, the Cabinet will set up an ad hoc committee with four main objectives: recover and declassify political archives; remove authoritarian symbols and preserve heritage sites where injustices were committed; redress judicial wrongs, reveal historical truths and promote reconciliation; and retrieve ill-gotten party assets.
President Tsai Ing-wen said Dec. 6 that the law is an important step in the nation’s democratic development. The legislation will help shed painful memories and distrust that resulted in political and social divisions so that society can face the past and advance together toward a better future, she added.
The period covered by the act is from Aug. 15, 1945—the end of Japanese colonial rule—to Nov. 6, 1992—when martial law was lifted in Taiwan’s outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu. Martial law ended on Taiwan proper in 1987.
As stipulated in the legislation, the committee will be an independent agency consisting of nine members nominated by the premier and confirmed by the Legislature.
Transitional justice measures to be enacted under the law include the removal, renaming or addressing of authoritarian symbols so as to uphold the nation’s free and democratic constitutional order. Public agencies, political parties, private organizations and individuals will be required to hand over related documents or records for educational, investigative and research purposes.
Criminal cases from the period determined to have been unjustly adjudicated are to be re-examined. Victims and their families can have charges quashed or seek retrials, and can also pursue compensation for violations of their human rights. According to the act, the committee is required to produce a report for the Cabinet on transitional justice implementation measures within two years. (KWS-E)
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