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Open Letter by Tsai Ing-wen on Chen Shui-bian’s detention

June 30, 2009

Dear Friends,

I wish to call your attention to the attached statement, which I have co-signed with a number of prominent academics, lawyers and civic leaders, regarding the issue of former President Chen Shui-bian’s detention.

A fair and independent judiciary is a crucial element of a strong democratic system, and public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary is essential to strengthening its capacity. Unfortunately, instead of growing public confidence in the government’s efforts to prosecute official corruption, abuses of the system, as outlined in the attached statement, are eroding public credibility in judicial institutions.

As leader of the political party that has championed democratic reforms in Taiwan for nearly three decades, it pains me to see that the Taiwanese people are losing confidence in the political impartiality of the judiciary, and that fundamental human rights and the integrity of Taiwan’s former president are vulnerable to abuses of the law. Although the attached statement is focused on the case of President Chen, his case is not an isolated one. I am also concerned that many more defendants have been subjected to similar treatment. I am further worried that this prolonged and unjustified incarceration of President Chen during the investigation period and trial is sewing the seeds of long-term public unrest and division.

We are appealing, therefore, for President Chen’s human rights to be respected by the Judiciary and for his immediate release.

As friends of Taiwan and observers of developments in Taiwan, you must be aware that since former President Chen’s arrest and incarceration incommunicado on November 12 last year, he has been detained for more than two hundred days. The signatories and I believe that his continued detention is unjustified and in violation of President Chen’s basic rights.

For reasons highlighted in the statement, the impartiality of the judicial system is in doubt, and we believe that former President Chen is being deprived of the right to a fair trial. Furthermore, violations in the confidentiality of the investigation, and the selective leaking of unverified information regarding the specifics of the case to politicians and the press, further indicate a failure of law enforcement institutions to protect the rights of the defendant during the trial process.

I have repeatedly urged the government to take seriously the responsibility of protecting the fundamental rights of the defendant, and to refrain from any political interference in the judicial process that insults the integrity and basic rights of our former President. The fairness of President Chen’s trial will be indicative of Taiwan’s democratic progress, and the Taiwanese people will not tolerate growing abuses in the system.

I also urge our international friends, especially those of you who have stood with us in the past through the more difficult years of fighting for democracy and freedom in Taiwan, to continue to stand with us as we demand a fair and just legal system.

Sincerely,

Tsai Ing-wen

Chairperson Democratic Progressive Party

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