2013-2015

Abuse in Juvenile Reform Schools

  • Hits: 1095

In February 2013, a teenage boy died of Sepsis caused by suppurated organs in the chest and abdomen during his enrollment for correctional education at Taoyuan Reform School of the Ministry of Justice (hereinafter as “the School”). There were signs of torture and excessive discipline. Large areas of bruising, skin tears and blisters were found on the boy’s right chest and under his armpit. The School denied allegations of torture, telling the boy’s family that he died of sudden death as a result of over scratching. The Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office conducted an investigation that went on over a year but could not determine the cause of death. The prosecutor closed the administrative case file. After widespread media attention, the case sparked a wave of public outcry, drawing attention to the human rights of delinquent juveniles. Later on, Changhua Reform School, another juvenile correctional facility, was reported to have abused its students by forcing them wear handcuffs and leg irons. There were also reports of students being handcuffed to outdoor laundry racks and in the corridors for as long as thirteen hours. In another incident, the Changhua Reform School put a student in solitary confinement for one year and five months and claimed it was for assessment purposes. (Case No. 1040830925)

The Control Yuan launched an investigation and found that the boy was subject to harsh treatment by his superintendent and instructors during his enrollment at the Taoyuan Reform School. He was sent to live alone in an independent unit even when his physical condition had deteriorated to the point that he was unable to care for himself. He went into a shock in the final hour before his death. The staff member of the School failed to transport the boy to the hospital for timely treatment. He died en route to the hospital. Meanwhile, there were reports of abuse at the Changhua Reform School reflect long-term human rights abuse by the juvenile correctional facilities in Taiwan, in violation of Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 19 of the Convention on Children’s Rights.

The Control Yuan issued an impeachment case against former headmaster of the Taoyuan Reform School, Lin Chiu-Lan, former director of discipline, Chen Li-Chong, director of hygiene, Ho Hui-Mei, and headmaster of the Changhua Reform School, Chan Yi-Pong. The Control Yuan also issued a corrective case against the Executive Yuan, the Agency of Corrections of the Ministry of Justice, Taoyuan Reform School, and Changhua Reform School. The investigation also points to systemic flaws in juvenile correction and calls for the Ministry of Justice, the Agency of Corrections, Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Department of Juvenile and Family at the Judicial Yuan to make improvements. It is hoped that the Control Yuan’s investigation report will compel the government to improve upon existing correctional education and facilitate children’s return to the community as soon as possible. The Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission has demoted the headmasters of the two schools in pay rate by one tier of rate each and the director of discipline of Taoyuan Reform School by two tiers of rate, and issued a demerit to the director of hygiene of Taoyuan Reform School.