International Federation of Journalists joins its affiliate, the Association of
Taiwan Journalists (ATJ), in expressing concern over the continued use of
criminal defamation laws to curb press freedom in Taiwan.
chairperson, Lin Chau-yi, a reporter for independent news website Newtalk, and
Su Jeng-ping, the website’s administrator, were sued for criminal defamation by
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Hsieh Guo-liang. The legal action
was taken in response to an article published by Newtalk on September 2.
article reported meetings between Hsieh and members of Taiwan’s National Communications Commission
prior to their public hearing of an application regarding one of Taiwan’s
largest ever multi-media acquisitions.
Want China Broadband, a subsidiary of the Want Want Group, already owns several
newspapers, magazines and terrestrial and satellite television stations in Taiwan. The
proposed acquisition would see the company purchase an additional 11 cable
television companies for TWD 76 billion (USD 2.6 billion), allowing the company
to secure 23 per cent of Taiwan’s market of cable subscribers. The purchase would enable the company to control one-third
article queried the purpose of the meetings but also included the denial by Hsieh
that the meeting involved any inappropriate pressure being placed on the
his claim against Lin, Hsieh successfully applied for provisional seizure of a third
of Lin’s monthly salary as collateral against possible future damages.
subsequently retracted his provisional seizure claim in response to negative
media coverage, the IFJ is
concerned that laws allowing seizure of defendants’ assets prior to hearings
threatens the livelihoods of journalists.
is the foundation of a democratic society. It is the responsibility of the
media to report on cases of public interest and hold public officials
accountable for their actions,” the IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
defamation laws curtail press freedom by allowing public figures to threaten
journalists with criminal action and provisional seizure of their assets. Such
laws are inconsistent with accountability and transparency.”
The IFJ urges the Taiwan Government to repeal
current defamation laws and institute defamation as a civil offence, with
relevant safeguards for press freedom and journalists’ ability to report on
matters of public interest.
case will be heard on October 27.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific