The Red Cross Act of the Republic of China: History and Abrogation
The Red Cross Act of the Republic of China was an item of legislation that established Taiwan Red Cross as a legal entity in Taiwan and protected the Red Cross name and emblem against any misuse or abuse. It also set forth TRC’s particular mission in providing emergency relief and medical care in times of disaster or armed conflict. On 27th July, President Ing-Wen Tsai issued the decree Hua-Zong-Yi-Yi-Zi No. 10500080991 on the abrogation of the Red Cross Act of the Republic of China (Red Cross Act), putting an end to the Act’s nearly sixty-two-year of history.
Red Cross Act implied that Taiwan, as a nation, agrees to uphold the Geneva Conventions and the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It also served as the founding statutes in establishing the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan Red Cross. The Act was ruthlessly abrogated. In response to this abrogation, Taiwan Red Cross convened a press conference to reaffirm our standpoint, filed for a preventive complaint at the Taipei High Administrative Court, and sought for the support of legislators to sign a petition for statutory interpretation of the Constitution. Taiwan Red Cross also filed an application to the Judicial Yuan for Constitutional interpretation.
Red Cross Society is an international humanitarian organization. Taiwan Red Cross does not enjoy any privileges. Internationally, “The Red Cross Society of the Republic of China” is equivalent to “Taiwan Red Cross,” and collaborations with IFRC still exist regardless of the our statutory status. Since the abrogation of the Red Cross Act, the government has not provides any legitimate reason that can justify the abolition of the Act. Taiwan, a supposedly democratic nation, has become the first country in the world that abrogates its national Red Cross Act.
Response: public gathering and continuous communication
In response to the introduction of the Red Cross Act Abrogation Bill in the legislation, Taiwan Red Cross held six briefing sessions at different regions throughout Taiwan and attended a public session organized by Legislative Yuan on 2nd June on the topic “Red Cross Act: abrogation and its aftermath.” Legislators expressed their support to amend – instead of abrogating – the Act. Professor Kuo-Tsai Chao of Department of Diplomacy of National Chengchi University, Professor Tzu-Wen Lee of the Department of Law of Soochow University, and Director General Mr. Wen-Liang Chen of United Way of Taiwan also voiced for keeping the Red Cross Act and stressed the important connection between the Act and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in terms of providing continuous humanitarian services over the past 150 years.
On 5th July, over six hundreds staffs and volunteers from TRC Headquarters, local Chapters and Branches gathered along with beneficiaries near the Legislative Yuan to submit a petition for suspension of the Red Cross Act Abrogation Bill and called for a more rational review on this matter. Issues circling the Red Cross Act should not be politicized. Twelve legislators, including Shyh-Bao Lai, also presented at the campaign venue to express their support.
Abrogation of the Act: a malicious act of misfortune
Unfortunately, Taiwan Red Cross’s effort to clarify the misinformation went in vain. On 12th July, the Legislative Yuan passed the bill to abolish the Red Cross Act, and on 27th July, the ROC President officially announced the abrogation of the Red Cross Act of the Republic of China. Legislature forced to pass the bill to put an end to the Red Cross Act that can be dated back to 18th October 1954. This decision is a malicious act of misfortune for Taiwan, which might cause irreversible harm to future collaboration between Taiwan Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations.
Red Cross Act ad hoc Team: seeking a judicial resolution
In response to the issues concerning the Red Cross Act, Taiwan Red Cross set up a Red Cross Act ad hoc Team on 20th June and held a total of eight meetings as of 31st December 2016. On 14th July, Taiwan Red Cross filed for a preventive complaint and a provisional injunction in the Taipei High Administrative Court, asking the Ministry of the Interior to maintain Taiwan Red Cross’s registration and legal personality before the administrative litigation reaches a final verdict. This is also to safeguard the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in particular the principle of unity, which states that each nation is allowed to charter only one Red Cross or Red Crescent Society, and to protect the Red Cross name and emblem against any misuse or abuse within the territory of Taiwan.
On the other hand, the abrogation of the Red Cross Act might be unconstitutional. In order to uphold the constitutional rights and the interests of the general public, Te-Fu Lin and the other thirty-eight legislators signed a petition for statutory interpretation of the Constitution on 15th July. Taiwan Red Cross also submitted a petition for Constitutional interpretation on the 18th of the same month.