Edited by Mike McConville and Eva Pils
Chapter 9: Lawyers’ activism and the expansion of the right to counsel in Taiwan
This chapter traces the development of an arrestee’s right to counsel in the Republic of China or Taiwan (ROC or Taiwan) and explores the role of the island’s lawyers and lawyers’ associations in advancing that development. It argues that the specific case of the expansion of the right to counsel in Taiwan serves as a model where lawyers’ activism in bolstering their role in the legal system brings about reforms that strengthen criminal defence and, more generally, contributes to positive change in attitudes towards lawyers. This study is also an attempt to broaden the comparative perspectives of those who seek to promote vigorous criminal defence in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Chinese defence lawyers’ access to their detained clients has remained very limited, and the scope of legal assistance that lawyers are allowed to provide has been far from adequate in both law and practice. As the National People’s Congress is now considering a new round of revisions to the Criminal Procedure Law, including changes concerning the defence lawyer’s role before trial, the time is ripe to again consider how to make meaningful improvements in the right to counsel in China and the prospects of reforms. Because of the similarities in political-legal culture between Taiwan and the PRC, the Taiwan experience is extremely relevant to this task.
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