There were continued reports of ill-treatment of suspects in police custody. Military conscripts received disciplinary punishments reportedly amounting to torture or ill-treatment. At least 13 prisoners were executed. Attempts by the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan, to break out of its international diplomatic isolation continued and were marked by unofficial visits by President Lee Teng-hui to some countries in Asia. Taiwan's attempts to join the UN continued to face obstacles, partly because the governments of the ROC and of the People's Republic of China refused to recognize each other. Taiwan was unable to accede to any of the multilateral treaties relating to the protection of human rights, and the authorities made no public commitment to accede to them in future. The Constitution was amended in July to allow the direct election of the president in 1996, when Li Teng-hui's term ends, and to provide more safeguards for the rights of indigenous people. In May, when the National Assembly convened to discuss the constitutional amendments, 572 judges called for reforms aimed at improving judicial independence. No judicial reform had been proposed by the government by the end of the year. There were continuing allegations of ill-treatment of people in police custody and detention centres. In August Pan Chang died while serving a 30-day prison term in the southern city of Tainan for alleged violations of public order. According to an unofficial medical report, injuries seen on his body may have been caused by beatings. In the same month, Chou Hung-yu, a deaf and mute university student, was detained and reportedly beaten by police during a murder investigation. An opposition member of the Legislative Yuan stated that police had broken into Chou Hung-yu's room without a warrant. No inquiry into these incidents was known to have been concluded by the end of the year. In January three army officers were sentenced to prison terms for beating to death an army conscript in July 1993 (see Amnesty International Report 1994). The court sentenced Kung Teh-huai to 12 years' imprisonment for beating and kicking conscript Chen Shih-wei. Two other junior officers, Ku Jung-feng and Chen Chia-hsiung, were sentenced to three and five years' imprisonment respectively. In September the Control Yuan, an independent state agency empowered to investigate official misconduct, made public a detailed report of its investigations into complaints that police and prosecutors had ill-treated suspects in two related 1988 murder cases. The report concluded that several suspects were tortured into making false confessions during interrogation, by being suspended from a horizontal wooden pole, choked and gagged. In one incident, a female suspect was undressed and an investigator inserted an object into her vagina. The report recommended that the officials involved should be prosecuted, but no action was known to have been taken by the end of the year. At least 13 prisoners were executed. Prisoners under sentence of death whose sentences had not been finally confirmed by the Supreme Court continued to be held permanently shackled. This practice amounts to an arbitrary additional punishment and constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. A government statement in October denied that permanent shackling amounted to inhuman treatment but officials said that the treatment of prisoners under sentence of death was being reviewed. The government made public the results of a public opinion survey on the death penalty carried out in 1993. It concluded that a majority of the respondents, while supporting the death penalty, did not believe that its increased use in previous years had improved public order. Most of those interviewed supported a temporary suspension of all executions, pending further studies. In October an Amnesty International delegate visited Taiwan to gather information about reports of ill-treatment of criminal suspects and military conscripts. In meetings with government officials, the delegate stressed that Taiwan should implement relevant provisions of all international human rights instruments despite its inability to ratify treaties formally.

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