A new draft bill that will provide a legal basis for random police checks was recently approved by Taiwan’s Cabinet. If approved by the Legislature, the bill will establish clear guidelines for the police to follow when conducting random checks of vehicles, public areas, and recreation establishments such as KTV parlors and pubs.

If passed into law, the guidelines will also provide the public the right to request a written record of the police check for use in administrative appeals, if the subject of such a check believes that his rights were violated by the check or manner in which the check was conducted.

The purpose of the guidelines is to define unambiguously the authority vested in the police and the principles to be adhered to by the police in the exercise of that authority. Additionally, the guidelines will provide rules governing the appeal process to be utilized when an individual thinks his rights have been infringed by a search or check. Thus, the bill aims at once to protect the human rights of those stopped at a check or searched while providing clear guidance for the police.

The new bill was drafted after Taiwan’s Grand Justices demanded that the Executive Yuan complete a comprehensive review as to whether people’s privacy is routinely violated by the police during police checks.

If passed into law, the guidelines will grant authority to the police to initiate checks and searches if they have an appropriate and reasonable suspicion that the behavior of those being checked or searched will, or has already, harmed others.

Under the current draft of the guidelines, the police are permitted to randomly stop and search vehicles if the police have information regarding the routes taken by suspects and criminals, or regarding the type of vehicle being used by those for whom they are searching.

The guidelines do not, however, permit the police to order anyone to go to the police station absent the consent of that person, unless the person cannot provide identification or is adversely affecting traffic or poses a safety concern.

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