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The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from official national legal publications and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the Global Legal Monitor.

Taiwan: Amendment of Long-Term Care Act

(Mar. 23, 2017) Taiwan’s Long-Term Care Services Act, which was promulgated on June 3, 2015, but is not slated to become law until June 2017, was amended effective January 28, 2017. (Long-Term Care Services Law: Amendment of Long-term Care Services Law Revises Articles 15, 22, 62 and 66, THE GAZETTE OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, No. 7288 (Jan. 26, 2017, effective Jan. 28, 2017), Global Legal Information Network, Legislative Yuan, R.O.C., website (click on pdf icon to view Chinese text of the Presidential Order amending the Act); Wendy Zeldin, Taiwan: Long-Term Care Legislation Adopted, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (May 22, 2015).)

The amendment law adds additional goals to the ones stated in the provision on the establishment of a special fund for long-term care services, namely, to provide for long-term care services, to expand on and spread out the capacity for long-term care services, and to enrich and balance the services with human resources and subsidize various outlays. (Long-Term Care Services Law…, supra; Long-Term Care Service Act (adopted on May 15, 2015, published by Presidential Order of June 3, 2015), art. 15 ¶ 1, Ministry of Health and Welfare website (in Chinese); Long-Term Care Services Act (June 3, 2015), Ministry of Health and Welfare website (English translation).)

The amendment law also adds two possible new sources of funding to the list set forth in article 15: additional tax revenue from (1) an increase of the estate and gift tax rates from 10% to up to 20%, and (2) an increase in the tax levied on tobacco from NT$590 per thousand cigarettes (or kilogram of other tobacco products) to NT$1,590. (Long-Term Care Services Law…, supra, art. 15 ¶ 2(1)&(2).) In addition, the amendment specifies that the measures set forth under the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures will not apply to these additional tax revenues. (Id. art. 15 ¶ 3; Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (June 13, 1951, as last amended Jan. 25, 1999), Laws & Regulations Database of the Republic of China (toggle for Chinese text); Wendy Zeldin, Taiwan: Proposed Amendments to Tobacco and Alcohol Tax, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Mar. 20, 2017).)

A new (third) paragraph added to article 22 of the Act states that private institutions engaged in institutional residential long-term care services referred to in the Act that were established in accordance with the Senior Citizens Welfare Act, the Nursing Staff Act, and the Act on Protection of the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities prior to the implementation of the amendment law, will be exempted, except if they expand or relocate, from the restriction that long-term care institutions that provide institutional lodging services must be established by financial organization legal persons and civic organization judicial persons (as stipulated in ¶ 1 of art. 22). (Long-Term Care Services Law…, supra, art. 22 ¶ 3; Long-Term Care Services Act, art. 22.)

Under a revised article 62, institutions that offered long-term care services pursuant to other laws prior to the enforcement of the amendment law “may continue to provide such services according to the original regulations.” (Long-Term Care Services Law…, supra, art. 62.) The amendment removes the other provisions in article 62 related to the requirement that long-term care related institutions reorganize within five years after the Act takes effect, leaving just the abovementioned provision. (Id.; Long-Term Care Services Act, art. 62.)

Finally, the amended articles will be implemented on the date of the enforcement of the Long-Term Care Services Act. (Long-Term Care Services Law…, supra, art. 66.)

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Israel: Amendment Authorizing Revocation of Israeli Nationality Passed

(Mar. 23, 2017) On March 6, 2017, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed the Nationality (Amendment No. 13) Law 5777 (Amendment Law). (Ministry of Justice website (scroll down to issue No. 2611 (Mar. 16, 2017) (in Hebrew).) The Amendment Law amends the Nationality Law, 5712-1952 (the Law). (SEFER HAHUKIM [BOOK OF LAWS, official gazette, SH] 5712 No. 95, p. 146, as amended.)

The Law authorizes the Minister of Interior to revoke the nationality of any person who has obtained Israeli nationality based on false information within three years after that person became an Israeli national. (Id. § 11(a).) The Law also authorizes the Administrative Court, in response to a request by the Minister of Interior, to cancel the Israeli nationality of any person if:

  1. the nationality has been acquired more than three years earlier based on false information; or
  2. the person has committed a breach of loyalty towards the state, as long as he/she will not become stateless as a consequence of the cancellation; and if he/she becomes stateless, the person will be granted a permit of permanent residence as authorized by the Minister of Interior. (Id. § 11(b).)

The Law provides that for the purpose of cancellation of nationality, it is presumed that persons who permanently reside in a country or an area listed in the supplement to the Law will not remain stateless. (Id.) The countries and areas listed are: Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. (Supplement to the Law.)

The Law generally defines breach of loyalty as engaging in, assisting, or soliciting the perpetration of a terrorist act or actively taking part in a terrorist organization; engaging in treason; and acquiring citizenship or permanent residence in any of the countries or areas listed in the above-cited supplement. (Law, § 11(b)(2).)

According to the Amendment Law, a person has a right to be present in a judicial hearing where revocation of his/her citizenship is considered. The Court may, however, conduct the hearing in his/her absence if an invitation to attend has been delivered to the person in accordance with instructions determined by the Minister of Justice as provided by the Law, and the Court has determined that the absence does not constitute an injustice. (Amendment Law, adding § 11(2)(d)(1) to the Law.)

The Court is similarly authorized, in response to a request by the Minister of Interior and subject to compliance with alternative methods of delivery as determined by the Minister of Justice, to order that the hearing be conducted in absentia. Such a decision may be made when the person concerned cannot be located or it is not possible to deliver to him/her an invitation to attend the hearing. (Id. adding § 11(2)(d)(2) to the Law.) Based on a request by the person involved, the Court may authorize participation by audiovisual conferencing conducted in an Israeli consulate abroad. (Id. adding § 11(2(d(3) to the Law.) The decision to conduct a hearing in the absence of the person concerned does not affect the right of that person to be represented by an attorney privately hired or appointed by the Court. (Id. adding § 11(2)(d)(4) to the Law.)

The Court may, upon a request made by the Minister of Interior, prohibit the entry into Israel of a person who permanently resides outside of Israel. Such a prohibition can be made if the Court is convinced that the person’s entry into Israel constitutes an unpreventable real danger to state security or to public welfare. (Id. adding § 11(2)(d1)(1) to the Law.)

The Amendment Law provides that the Court will not prohibit the entry “if considerations of carrying out justice exceed the danger reflected from the person’s entry into Israel.” (Id.) An order to prevent the entry of a person based on the danger that entry would pose does not impact the person’s right to legal representation at the hearing. (Id.) A person whose nationality was revoked in his absence and in the absence of legal representation may request that the revocation decision be quashed within 45 days after learning of the decision. (Id. adding § 11(2)(d)(3) to the Law.)

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Kyrgyzstan: Parliament Approves Bill Abolishing Military Courts

(Mar. 23, 2017) On December 27, 2016, the President of Kyrgyzstan signed into law amendments to the Constitutional Law on the Status of Judges of the Kyrgyz Republic that had been adopted by the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic. (Optimization of Spending: Military Courts Are Terminated in Kyrgyzstan, SPUTNIK-TJ.COM,  (Dec. 27, 2016) (in Russian); Law No. 141 of July 9, 2008, OFFICIAL GAZETTE No. 51 (July 15, 2008), Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan website (in Russian).)  The purpose of the reform is to abolish the military justice system in the country.  (Optimization of Spending: Military Courts Are Terminated in Kyrgyzstan, supra.)

According to the authors of the legislation, military courts are not efficient because of military judges’ higher compensation rates and smaller caseload. Reportedly. they adjudicate on average 20 cases per year, in contrast to more than 133 cases examined by civilian judges.  Currently there are 387 judges in Kyrgyzstan’s lower level courts, of whom 14 are military judges.  (Id.)  A member of the Kyrgyz legislature, Maksat Sabirov, pointed out that unlike Russia, China, or the United States, Kyrgyzstan has a relatively small army of around 20,000 people, and it is not practical to maintain a substantial group of military judges when civilian judges serve a population of almost six million.  (Aizada Kutuyeva, Do Deputies Intend to Sacrifice the Military Court?, AZATTYK.ORG (Sept. 29, 2016) (in Russian).)

It is expected that the military judges and their staff members will be integrated into the national civilian judiciary and will serve in the courts of all levels, and that people accused of 18 offenses recognized by the Kyrgyz Criminal Code as military crimes will be tried by local court judges without any special procedures. (Optimization of Spending: Military Courts Are Terminated in Kyrgyzstan, supra.)

Prepared by Nerses Isajanyan, Foreign Law Consultant, under the supervision of Peter Roudik, Director of Legal Research.

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Germany: Parliament Debates Burqa and Niqab Ban for Civil Servants and Soldiers

(Mar. 22, 2017) On March 9, 2017, the German Bundestag (parliament) debated a draft act that would prohibit federal civil servants performing official duties and soldiers in general from wearing full body and face veils (burqas) and face veils (niqab).  Exceptions would be allowed for medical reasons (protection against infections) or for official purposes.  The ban would also apply to officials coordinating the federal elections.  (Gesetzentwurf der Bundesregierung, Entwurf eines Gesetzes zu bereichsspezifischen Regelungen der Gesichtsverhüllung [Draft Act of the Federal Government, Draft Act to Regulate Certain Aspects of Face Veils], DEUTSCHER BUNDESTAG: DRUCKSACHEN UND PROTOKOLLE [BT-Drs.] 18/11180 (Feb. 15, 2017), arts. 1-4.)

Furthermore, the draft act would allow denying a voter the right to vote if the face veil prevents the proper identification of the person.  In addition, the draft act states that it must be possible for the police and other officials to compare the face of any German or foreigner to their ID picture or passport for identification purposes.  (Id. arts. 5-8.)

Reactions to the Proposed Ban

Tim Ostermann, a member of the Christian Democratic Union party and a proponent of the ban, remarked that all people who live in Germany must adhere to the national laws and rules.  He stated that, in his view, “the rule to show your face is one of the central rules in this country. Covering your face or wearing a veil violates one of the fundamental values of an open society.” (Deutscher Bundestag [German Parliament], Plenarprotokoll 18/221 [Plenary Protocol 18/221], Mar. 9, 2017, at 22265, Bundestag website.)

Lars Castellucci, a member of the Social Democratic Party, and Ulla Jelpke from the Left Party both pointed out that the draft act seemed to regulate a non-existent problem.  They stated that they had never encountered a civil servant who was wearing a burqa or a niqab and that only a small minority of women in general wears them in public.  (Id. at 22267.)

Proposed State Ban

The state government of Bavaria recently introduced a similar draft act that would ban face veils for civil servants; for people working in public services; for those on elections boards; for those working in universities, schools, and kindergartens; and for students.  Furthermore, the draft act would allow the prohibition of face veils as a condition for a public gathering and would allow denying a voter the right to vote if the face veil prevents the proper identification of the person.  It would also authorize the police to request a person to remove her face veil for identification purposes.  (Entwurf eines Gesetzes über Verbote der Gesichtsverhüllung in Bayern [Draft Act to Prohibit Face Veils in Bavaria], Bavarian State Ministry of the Interior website (last visited Mar. 21, 2017).)

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Bahrain: Constitutional Amendment Allows Military Trials of Civilians

(Mar. 22, 2017) On March 6, 2017, the Bahraini Parliament (Shura Council) approved an amendment to article 105(b) of the Bahraini Constitution of 2002.  (Bahrain: Constitution of February 14 in English (2002) (Constitution), ACE Electoral Knowledge Network website.)  Members of the Council approved the constitutional amendment two weeks after it was passed by the National Assembly, the lower chamber of the Parliament.  (Constitutional Amendment in Bahrain Permits Civilian to Be Tried Before Military Courts, BBC NEWS (Mar. 5, 2016) (in Arabic).)

The newly amended provision authorizes military courts to have jurisdiction over civilians charged with terrorism offenses.  Bahrain’s Constitution formerly limited the jurisdiction of military courts to offenses committed by security forces, stating “[t]he law regulates the military judiciary and shows its competencies with regard to the Bahrain Defense Force, the National Guard and the Public Security Forces.”  (Explanatory Note on the Draft Amendment to Clause (b) of Article 105 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain (first circulated Feb. 2, 2017) (English translation), Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain website.)

The explanatory note related to the approved amendment recommended the replacement of the text of article 105(b) with a new paragraph that extends the mandate of the military justice system to include certain crimes that are defined by law, including offenses committed against the security apparatus.  The explanatory note also calls also for a flexible and speedy military justice system to be established.  (Id.)

Reactions to the Provision

International human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch opposed the amendment.  In a report issued on February 23, 2017, Human Rights Watch stated “that trials of civilians before military tribunals violate the right to be tried by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal.”  (Bahrain: Proposed Military Trials of Civilians, Human Rights Watch website (Feb 23, 2017).)

Similarly, local activists such as Sayed Alwadaei, the director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, criticized the new amendment.  He called it a “defacto martial law.”  (Bahrain Parliament Approves Military Trials for Civilians, DAWN (Mar. 6, 2017).)

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