Peaceful Assembly

The constitution provides for the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. However, restrictions on this right continue to exist in various laws, in particular the Assembly and Parade Act. The Assembly and Parade Act was established in 1988 after martial law was lifted and requires individuals, planning an assembly, to apply for government approval before staging an outdoor assembly or a parade. It also places limits on the location of the assembly, its purpose and how the assembly will take place. The authorities also have wide powers to call for the dispersal of assemblies.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have been critical of the Act and have call for it to be repealed. Interpretations of the law by the Judicial Yuan (constitutional court) including Interpretation No. 445 (restrictions on speech as unconstitutional) and Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 718 (permit system for spontaneous assemblies as unconstitutional) have weakened the ability of the authorities to clampdown on assemblies.

However, the authorities have used other laws and statutes to suppress assemblies and demonstrations, such as arresting and detaining people for Criminal Code offenses of obstructing an officer in discharge of duties, insulting a public official, endangering public safety, or acting against compulsory enforcement.

Police in the capital, Taipei, have used a method commonly known as diubao, where police remove protesters and drop them off far away from the demonstrations, to hamper the people’s right to assembly, under the guise of enforcing the law and maintaining public order and control.