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A nation must think before it acts.
Before the 73rd anniversary of the 228 Incident, the Transitional Justice Commission launched its database of people who went on trial during the White Terror era. The release of this database is a significant step in Taiwan’s transitional justice journey — for the first time, people can view a victim’s legal path through the Chinese Nationalist Pary’s (KMT) authoritarian judicial system all in one place.
The database’s inclusion of judges and prosecutors puts names and faces to perpetrators of the corrupt system. Survivors, family members and researchers now have access to important data that show how the KMT’s system of oppression functioned, because the database traces every step of the process.
While this development is important for Taiwan’s continued democratic development and for peoples’ healing, it also shows that the work of the commission must continue into President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) second term.
According to the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例), the commission is supposed to wrap up its investigations and write a report with recommendations by May. The law states that it has two years to “submit a hardcopy mission conclusion report to the premier” and that it “shall include a complete investigation report, a planning proposal and concrete implementation measures.”
This database is not the legally mandated report, so the commission still has much work to do on that front before the deadline. Still, it does not look like the its work can be completed in the remaining time.