Lawmakers pass amendment bill to better protect sexual assault victims


CNA

TAIPEI–The Legislature passed an amendment to the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act Tuesdayw that expands the ban on releasing information regarding victims of sex crimes.

Existing restrictions prohibit publications, media outlets and the Internet media from releasing a victim’s name or information that allows people to identify sexual assault victims, but the newly amended act’s Article 13 now bans anyone from releasing such information.

The fine on media outlets, publishers or online media for violating the law remains at NT$60,000-$600,000 (US$1,826-$18,267), while individuals breaching the newly passed amendment will face a fine ranging from NT$20,000 to NT$100,000.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the amendment was proposed after information about victims in high-profile sexual assault cases — including some involving Justin Lee, who was convicted for raping 20 women — was spread and circulated by Internet users and media outlets.

Exceptions to the ban can be made when victims give their consent or when prosecutors or judges deem the release of such information necessary.

Under a newly added Article 15-1, meanwhile, the amendment enhanced the protection of victims who are children or mentally disabled by establishing the role of experts to assist in questioning and as witnesses in court proceedings, the ministry said.

In addition, Article 15-1 authorizes the use of one-way mirrors, video conferencing or other means of questioning or court proceedings to protect such victims.

Changes were made to nine articles of the act, while three new articles were added.

The new law will come into effect in the next coming weeks upon promulgation, except for Article 15-1, which will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2017 to allow time for the preparation of the new measures involved, the ministry said.