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MOI News

2011-12-23 16:01

MOI thanks Legislative Yuan for passing amendments to Social Order Maintenance Act and to invite relevant ministries and local governments to formulate supporting measures.

To prevent a window period for sex trade management from existing when Article 80, Paragraph 1-1 of the Social Order Maintenance Act is invalid, the Legislative Yuan, after three readings, passed several draft amendments to the Social Order Maintenance Act on November 4, authorizing local governments to enact self-government ordinances governing the establishment and management of sex trade districts inside a commercial zone in an urban area or a recreational zone on non-urban land. Both sex workers and their customers having sex within designated districts will not be penalized in the future. Otherwise, those who have sex in violation of the Social Order Maintenance Act or self-government ordinances will be penalized.

Regarding the timely passage of the amendments to the Act, Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah thanked people from all walks of life for providing opinions and advice during the legislative process and particularly thanked President Wang Jin-pyng of the Legislative Yuan and caucuses of both the ruling and opposition parties for their support. He also noted that the completion of the amendments at the critical moment would enable the seamless integration of relevant articles so that no window period will exist to cause serious social unrest. The minister added that although the passed amendments are not perfect, they represented the “highest common denominator” of various proposals put forward by all walks of life. The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) will invite representatives from relevant central government agencies and city and county governments to brainstorm and develop strategies and measures regarding the enactment of self-government ordinances governing the establishment and management of sex trade districts, so as to have the amendments thoroughly implemented and fulfill their spirit.

The MOI said, according to Interpretation No. 666 on Paragraph 1, Article 80 of the Social Order Maintenance Act made by the Council of Grand Justices of the Judicial Yuan on Nov. 6, 2009, that punishes prostitutes while not to punish their clients, its stipulation violates the principle of equality embodied in the Constitution and should cease to be effective on Nov.6, 2011.

In response to social problems which may arise due to the Interpretation and in order to reach a consensus of society, in the past two years the MOI has sponsored two public hearings, two expert seminars and many consulting meetings, commissioned opinion poll companies to conduct two surveys, and submitted a proposal four times to the Executive Yuan Task Force for Promotion of Human Rights Protection to make relevant amendments after the legislation policy is formulated.

The amended Social Order Maintenance Act authorizes local governments to enact self-government ordinances governing the establishment and management of sex trade districts inside a commercial zone in an urban area or a recreational zone on non-urban land. In order not to cause negative effect on local residents’ living quality, sex trade districts should keep a certain distance from cultural, educational and religious facilities.

The MOI noted that both parties having sex within designated districts will not be penalized in the future. Otherwise, those having sex in violation of the Social Order Maintenance Act or self-government ordinance will be penalized. And those who want to run sex trade business or provide sex services have to register, apply for a license and undergo regular health checks according to the Act.

As to those places for sex trade where have legally existed, the MOI said that, based on the specific historical background and the consideration of protecting existing rights, the local governments may allow them to continue operating at the same addresses according to the conditions as prescribed in self-government ordinances, and not to be affected by the amendments to the Act.

The MOI added that in the course of consulting on the draft amendments, legislators of both the ruling and opposition parties had expressed their concerns about penalties imposed on the third party profiting from sex trade. After lively exchange of opinions, they decided to increase penalties imposed on those who intend to broker or broker sex trade to a detention up to three days and a fine of NT$10,000-NT$50,000; the detention may increase to five days for serious offenders. The amendments also require the person in charge of sex trade business to urge sex providers to undergo health checks on a regular basis.

Moreover, in order to protect human dignity and set the standards for the police to impose penalties, the Legislative Yuan has also passed the amendments with two additional resolutions. One resolution requires the government should actively provide sex workers, who want to change jobs, with vocational counseling, enabling them to develop other skills to earn their living. The other resolution demanded that the National Police Agency should set the standard of fines imposed on offenders for the local police to follow as soon as possible. A three-month period is given for publicizing the newly added subjects on whom penalties will be imposed, and those who violate because of not knowing the amended Act during the publicity period but the violation is minor should be taken into consideration by the police when deciding a penalty.


 
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中華民國內政部