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《TAIPEI TIMES》 Return controversial bills to committee review: legal experts

Representatives from a coalition of civic groups in Kaohsiung yesterday hold a banner calling for legislative reform bills to be sent back to committee for deliberation.
Photo: CNA

Representatives from a coalition of civic groups in Kaohsiung yesterday hold a banner calling for legislative reform bills to be sent back to committee for deliberation. Photo: CNA

2024/05/28 03:00

By Hsieh Chun-lin and Kayleigh Madjar / Staff reporter, with staff writer

Dozens of legal experts yesterday released a statement calling on lawmakers to return five controversial legislative reform bills to committee for deliberation, and to consult more broadly with experts and the public to establish a consensus before passing the bills.

The Legislative Yuan is today scheduled to vote on a set of reform bills proposed by opposition lawmakers. All but one have already been voted through to the third and final reading, which might be held today.

The bills seek to expand the legislature’s powers of investigation, including imposing fines on government officials, civil organizations and private individuals for failing to cooperate at hearings.

Another provision would impose a prison sentence of up to a year on public officials for lying during legislative hearings.

Procedural flaws and the unconstitutional content of the bills have led to heated conflict in the legislature and mass protests nationwide, the letter’s 39 signatories said.

“As legal experts, we call on the legislature to halt the second reading of the five reform bills and return them to committee for thorough review,” they said.

The Constitution does not explicitly grant the Legislative Yuan investigative powers, which are instead governed by four constitutional interpretations: Nos. 325, 585, 633 and 729, they said.

No. 585 states that the legislature “may exercise a certain power of investigation,” but “under the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances, the scope of the targets or matters subject to the Legislative Yuan’s investigative power does not grow unchecked.”

The bills not only involve the balance of power between the legislature and executive, but also restrict the rights of the general public, the statement says.

The interpretation addresses this.

“The constitutional principles of proportionality, clarity and definitiveness of law, as well as due process of law, must all be complied with where such procedures may involve any restrictions imposed upon the rights of the people,” it says.

The bills’ proposed methods of forcing people to cooperate with investigations infringe on their personal liberties, the experts said.

They also lack sufficiently clear explanations of the scope, purpose, means, procedural guarantees, remedies and other necessary details, they said, adding that this would lead to numerous problems.

There is also a difference between the legislature’s powers of interpellation and investigation, they said.

The former is intended to provide lawmakers information on which to base votes or statements, while the latter is for the legislature to obtain facts necessary to carry out its constitutional responsibility of passing laws and budgets, the experts said.

Whether they merit the same level of punishment for disrupting should be carefully considered, they added.

The experts called on lawmakers not to rush to a vote this week so that opinions from all sectors can be considered to craft a more complete set of bills.

However, if they are passed, the experts asked the Cabinet and president to return the bills to the legislature for reconsideration.

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

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