Taiwan: Indigenous man cleared of weapons charges

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    TAIPEI, Taiwan — A court in southeastern Taitung County has ruled that an aboriginal resident violated no rules after he was charged with alleged illegal possession of a rifle. The aboriginal man surnamed Chang is a member of the aboriginal Paiwan tribe. He was brought to the Taitung District Court by the Forest Bureau for owning and using a home-made rifle, which he claimed has been for hunting and bringing food to his family.

    Aboriginal people, the native residents of Taiwan driven up to mountainous regions with less arable land by Han Chinese immigrated to the island from mainland China, have been allowed to own weapons for hunting purposes. But the bureau charged that Chang has employed a modern version of rifle with higher power instead of the conventional model in violation of the existing rules controlling weapons and ammunitions. Chang defended that personally improved the rifle’s functions for safety reason and the weapon.

    After reviewing the dispute, the aboriginal affairs office of the court passed down a verdict that Chang has broken no regulations since the regulations in Taiwan and adopted by the United Nations allow aboriginal people to improve their tools and instruments along with the advance of technologies.

    There is no evidence showing that Chang has used his rifle for purposes other than hunting wild boars and other animals, said the court. The Judicial Yuan has designated nine district courts in Taiwan to set up special offices to handle legal cases based on the culture and traditional practice and lifestyle of the indigenous residents starting from January this year. Judges and staff have been provided with special training courses to do the special duties related to the aboriginal people.

    Chang’s owning a rifle has become the first legal case handled by judicial officials with higher knowledge about aboriginal affairs in Taiwan. Officials at the Forest Bureau under the Council of Agriculture have not decided if to appeal the court ruling.

    Source: http://www.chinapost.com.tw