Human rights in Taiwan

David Reid made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The request was successful.

From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,

I would like access to all information from DFAT and the Australian Office Taipei concerning human rights in Taiwan from the period May 2008 to the present.

The documents sought includes, but is not limited to, briefings, memos and emails sent to or from the Australian Office Taipei, ministerial briefings and communications and internal briefings, memos or emails from DFAT.

The scope of human rights issues includes, but is not limited to, the death penalty, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, detention and trial of former president Chen Shui-bian, detention and trial of DPP officials on corruption related charges, and incidents surrounding the visit of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin in November 2008.

Yours faithfully,
David Reid

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Our ref: 1211-F460

File no: 12/16881

 

 

Dear Mr Reid

 

Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request

 

Thank you for your email dated 28 November 2012 in which you seek access
under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) to:

 

“I would like to access all information from DFAT and the Australian
Office Taipei concerning human rights in Taiwan from the period May 2008
to the present.

 

The documents sought includes, but is not limited to, briefings, memos and
emails sent to or from the Australian Office Taipei, ministerial briefings
and communications and internal briefings, memos or emails from DFAT.

 

The scope of human rights issues includes, but is not limited to, the
death penalty, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the
press, detention and trial of former president Chen Shui-bian, detention
and trial of DPP officials on corruption related charges, and incidents
surrounding the visit of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin in November 2008.”

 

Searches are now being undertaken in relevant areas of the Department for
documents relevant to your request.  I will contact you again once the
searches have been completed.

 

Scope of request:

If it emerges that the scope of your request is unclear or is too large
for processing, the Department will contact you to discuss re-scoping the
request.

 

Timing of release:

As the subject matter of your request will require DFAT to upload any
documents released to you to the Department’s FOI Disclosure Log, I take
this opportunity to advise you that the Department’s policy is to upload
released documents within one business day of your receipt of the
documents. 

 

Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to
contact the undersigned, the case officer, on (02) 6261 3461 or by return
email.

 

Please note a copy of this email has been sent to Mr David Yardley,
Director, Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section, Domestic Legal
Branch for his information.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Stephanie Allan

Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section

Domestic Legal Branch

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Ph: 6261 3461  Fax: 6261 2144

 

 

 

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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Stephanie,

Thank you for your initial response. Once a search has been made please also advise if DFAT will be able to complete the FoI request within 30 days.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment 1211 F460 Charges Letter.PDF.pdf
87K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Reid

I refer to your FOI request of 28 November and our email acknowledgement of 30 November 2012.
Please find attached the Department's 'charges letter' which provides an assessment of costs to process your FOI request. It is self-explanatory.
Please contact me if you have any queries.
Regards

John

John Scott
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch

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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Mr Scott,

My initial request was quite broad in scope. As such I would like to resubmit the request to make it more specific and reduce the number of documents involved.

I would like to request all documents, as outlined in my initial request, pertaining to the detention and trial of former president Chen Shui-bian and the detention and trial of DPP officials on corruption related charges.

In addition to this I would like to access documents which illustrate the range of human rights issues monitored by DFAT and the Australian Office Taipei over the period May 2008 to the present. These would most likely be in the form of annual reports or regular briefings.

I would also appreciate it if you could indicate the number of documents or pages of information involved in the initial request and a breakdown of how the charge was calculated. As the resubmitted request should involve a significantly smaller number of documents I ask DFAT to waive any fees.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment 1211 F460 Charges Estimate Reid.xls
52K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Reid

Thank you for your email below.

Re your para 1. In light of your re-scoped request I consider your original request [reference number 1211-F460] to have been withdrawn. Please confirm your agreement in due course.
Re your para 2/4. A new search will now be undertaken by the relevant line area to identify documents falling within the terms of your re-scoped request. I will contact you once this process is complete and at that time you will be given the opportunity to either agree to pay the charges or contend that the estimated charges have been wrongly assessed or should be for reduced or not imposed.
Re your para 3. See advice above.
Re your para 4. I have attached an electronic version of our calculation sheet of the charges estimate for your original request.

Timing of release - Again, as the subject matter of your revised request will require DFAT to upload any documents released to you to the Department’s FOI Disclosure Log, I take this opportunity to advise you that the Department’s policy is to upload released documents within 24 hours of your receipt of the documents.

Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Regards
John

John Scott
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch

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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Mr Scott,

Thanks for your reply. I understand the re-scoped request constitutes a new request and the original request is withdrawn. Therefore DFAT has 30 days to respond from 14 December 2012.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Mr Reid

I refer to your recent re-scoped FOI request and our telephone conversation this afternoon.

As explained, I have redrafted your request to limit the breadth of document category you seek while maintaining the subject matter. Before I ask the relevant line area again to undertake a search of their holdings for material relevant, could you please review and revise as need be, or confirm that we are on the same page ie that the terms of your request are correct.

"- documents, (cables between DFAT and the Australian Office Taipei, ministerial submissions, briefings/reports) pertaining to the detention and trial of former president Chen Shui-bian and the detention and trial of DPP officials on corruption related charges.

- documents which illustrate the range of human rights issues monitored by DFAT and the Australian Office Taipei over the period May 2008 to the present. These would most likely be in the form of annual reports or regular briefings.

- as the resubmitted request should involve a significantly smaller number of documents I ask DFAT to waive any fees."

Please do not hesitate to contact me on 62613212 or by return e mail to clarify any matters.
Thanks
John

John Scott
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch

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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Mr Scott,

Following on from your phone call I am happy to rephrase the request to make it simpler and reduce the time and costs involved. I have rephrased the request based on your suggestions as follows.

I seek documents (cables between DFAT and the Australian Office Taipei, ministerial submissions, briefings/reports) pertaining to the detention and trial of former president Chen Shui-bian and the detention and trial of DPP officials on corruption related charges.

I also seek documents which illustrate the range of human rights issues monitored by DFAT and the Australian Office Taipei over the period May 2008 to the present. These would most likely be in the form of annual reports or regular briefings.

As the resubmitted request should involve a significantly smaller number of documents I ask DFAT to waive any fees. I am also happy to receive the documents in electronic format to minimise costs associated with photocopying and postage.

Please advise if this constitutes a new request or if the request is still considered the same as the one made on 14 December.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Mr Reid

Many thanks for your prompt response. I will now refer it to the line area for a search and identification of relevant material and in due course will inform you of the outcome. With staff shortages across the Department over the Xmas/New Year period I will need to allow the line area an extended period in which to provide its response. Normal operations of the Department cease next week and resume on 31 December.
As your request is essentially for the same subject matter I am happy to accept it as the same request as that expressed in your email of 14 December 2012. While a small matter, I should clarify that the time on this request commences on 18 December 2012 when you advised your consent to the withdrawal of your original request.
Season's greetings.
Regards
John

John Scott
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment Reid Charges letter.pdf
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Dear Mr Reid

I refer to your re-scoped FOI request of 19 December 2012 and my email acknowledgement of 20 December 2012.
Please find attached the Department's 'charges letter' which provides an assessment of costs to process your FOI request. It is self-explanatory.
Please contact me if you have any queries.
Regards

John

John Scott
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section Domestic Law Branch

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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Mr Scott,

I would like to ask DFAT to waive the fee of $127.66. I am making the request as an independent researcher and blogger and have no intention of making any profit from the information. The amount involved is relatively small and I don't believe it will place any significant burden on DFAT's budget.

The matter is of public interest to the Taiwanese Australian community and other Australians with connections to Taiwan. It is also of interest to academics in the field of Taiwan Studies particularly those studying Australia-Taiwan relations and human rights.

Also, as mentioned in earlier correspondence, I am happy to receive the documents in electronic format to minimise costs associated with postage and photocopying.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment Letter Reid.pdf
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Dear Mr Reid

I refer to your FOI request of 3 December 2012 and your email below.
Please find attached the Department's response on this matter. The letter is self-explanatory.
Please contact me if you have any queries.
Regards

John Scott
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
(02) 6261 3212

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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Mr Scott,

I appreciate the letter which clearly explains the reasons for imposing charges even if I don't entirely agree with it. I have forwarded payment for the deposit via regular mail so processing of the request can begin when it is received.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

 
Dear Mr Reid
 
FOI Ref: 1212-F474
File No: 12/17836
 
Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request
 
I am writing seeking your agreement to an extension of time of up to 30
days in accordance with the provisions of section 15AA(a) of the Freedom
of Information Act 1982, to complete the processing of your FOI request
for information relating, inter alia, to the detention and trial of former
Taiwan President Chen Shui-Bian.
 
On receipt today of your payment of the charges deposit, processing of
your request will proceed with the collation of relevant material from the
line area for assessment by a Departmental decision-maker. I regret
however that the Department will be unable to provide a formal access
decision on your request within the statutory time limit of 30 days
provided under FOI legislation ie by Tuesday 29 January 2013.
 
Your written agreement by return email, to an extension of time of a
period up to 30 days to provide our response, would be appreciated. On
receipt, the Department will, in accordance with S.15AA(b) of the Act,
inform the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
 
A copy of this email has been sent to Ms Stephanie Allan, Acting Director,
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section for her information.
 
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
 
 
 

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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Mr Scott,

I am happy for an extension of 30 days to be granted. I hope that the request can be completed as soon as possible though and that the full 30 days is not required.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment Receipt.pdf
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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Mr Scott,

On 24 January I agreed to a 30 day extension to complete the FoI request. I am not entirely clear as to which date the 30 day extension begins from. However, the request is either overdue or should be completed shortly. Please read this note as a reminder and I hope that this FoI request can be completed as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

 
Dear Mr Reid
 
FOI Ref: 1212-F474
File No: 12/17836
 
Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request
 
Your email of 19 February 2013 refers.
 
I am writing to advise that your FOI request relating to the detention and
trial of former Taiwan President Chen Shui-Bian will be finalised
shortly.  The Department will be seeking a short extension of time from
the office of the Australian Information Commissioner under the provisions
of section 15AB of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, in order to
complete the administrative processes associated with this request.
 
I take this opportunity to inform you that there is an outstanding amount
of $95.76 owing for the processing of this request. Please note that the
Department will be unable to provide you with the documents falling within
the scope of your request until this amount is paid. 
 
A copy of this email has been sent to Ms Ada Cheung, Acting Director,
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section for her information.
 
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
 
 
 

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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Mr Scott,

Thank you for your mail and I am pleased to know that the request will be completed soon. Please send an invoice for the outstanding amount or advise how to make the payment. I will make the payment promptly to ensure there are no further delays in finalising the request.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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Sean Bainbridge left an annotation ()

Section 15(5)(b) of the Act provides that an applicant is to be notified of a decision on a request not later than 30 days after an agency or minister received the request. This period can be extended by an agency or minister to facilitate consultation with an affected third party or foreign government or organisation (s 15(6),(8)), by agreement with the applicant (s 15AA), or by the Information Commissioner (s 15AB). If an applicant is not notified of a decision on a request within the statutory time limit (including any extension), the agency or minister cannot impose a charge for providing access, even if the applicant was earlier notified that a charge was payable (reg 5(2), (3)). If a deposit was paid by the applicant it is to be refunded (reg 14).

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From: Enquiries

Our reference: RQ13/00407

 

 

 

Mr David Reid

By email:  [1][FOI #23 email]

 

 

 

Dear Mr Reid

Extension of time request under s15AB

On 27 February 2013 the Department of Foreign Affairs And Trade requested
further time to make a decision on your FOI request of 17 December 2013.

This request was on the basis that the processing period is insufficient
to deal adequately with your request, because it is complex and
voluminous.

The Information Commissioner has decided to grant the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade an extension of time of 8 days for this request,
to 8 March 2013. This decision has been made under s15AB(2) of the Freedom
of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (the Act).

Review rights

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled this matter, you may
complain to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. This service is free, and you can
contact the office on 1300 362 072 or visit [2]www.ombudsman.gov.au.

If you would like to discuss this matter you may contact Enquiries on 1300
363 992 or via email [3][email address].

 

Yours sincerely

 

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

GPO Box 2999 CANBERRA ACT 2601 |www.oaic.gov.au

Fax: +61 2 6239 9187

Email: [4][email address]

 

Protecting information rights – advancing information policy

 

P Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[FOI #23 email]
2. http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/
3. mailto:[email address]
4. mailto:[email address]

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Alex Sadleir left an annotation ()

As noted above even if a new application was taken to be made on 18 December 2012 and extended 30 days on January 24 2013, On February 24 2013 all fees and charges related to this FOI application *must* be waived in full and all deposits be refunded http://www.oaic.gov.au/publications/guid...

It doesn't make much sense to have this explicit rule if agencies can get an 8 day extension /ex post facto/ and charge applicants money again.

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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Office of the Australian Information Commissioner,

I have already forwarded payment for the outstanding amount of $95.76 to DFAT. This is because I want the request to be completed without any further delays.

I will contact your office by telephone on Monday to discuss the issues raised in two annotations to this request's page at www.righttoknow.org.au. These concern whether DFAT has completed the request within the time limits set by the legislation and whether the fees should be refunded by DFAT.

I will give the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner a chance to explain the matter before deciding if I should refer it to the Ombudsman.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Mr Scott,

Two annotations to this request's page at www.righttoknow.org.au have questioned whether DFAT should refund the fees because it has not been completed within the time limits defined under Section 15(5)(b) of the Act.

I contacted the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner yesterday by phone to discuss this matter. They advised that I should address my complaint to DFAT in the first instance.

I would appreciate it if you could raise this matter with the appropriate person in DFAT and inform me in writing of their decision.

If a decision on this matter will take more than a few days please process my payment for the outstanding amount so that the documents can be released. This is on the understanding that the fees will be refunded if DFAT is found to have not complied with time limits set by the Act.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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From: Cheung, Ada
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment OAIC 15AB notification Reid.pdf
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Attachment Credit Card Payment Form.doc
270K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Reid,

Thank you for your message below sent to Mr Scott.

Please find attached for your information notification from the OAIC of its decision to grand DFAT an 8-day extension under s 15AB of the FOI Act, extending the deadline until 8 March 2013. This extension means that DFAT remains within the statutory time period for processing your FOI request.

In relation to the processing of the payment of the balance of your FOI request, please find attached the credit card authorisation form. I would be grateful if you could complete it and send it to us before 8 March, as the Department would be unable to release any documents to you until the balance is received, as required by Regulation 11(1) of the FOI (Charges) Regulations 1982: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2010C0...

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
a/g Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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From: David Reid

Delivered

Dear Ada Cheung,

I posted a payment form with my credit card details on 2 March. DFAT should either have received it by now or will receive it shortly.

Yours sincerely,

David Reid

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment Schedule of documents Reid.pdf
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Attachment Reid decision letter.PDF.pdf
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Dear Mr Reid

Please find attached the Department's access decision letter and attached document schedule pertaining to your recent FOI request relating to former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian.
I note your email advice to Ms Cheung yesterday that your payment of the balance of charges for processing this request is in the mail. On receipt of your payment the relevant material will be sent to you.

Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch

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Alex Sadleir left an annotation ()

Note that the decision letter indicates on the last page that "documents will be sent to you via ExpressPost [sic]".

No postal address appears on the document so I hope that is just a mistake and documents will be delivered electronically.

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment 1212 F474 Documents in released form.PDF.pdf
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Attachment 1212 F474 Release schedule.xlsx
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Dear Mr Reid

Our previous correspondence on the above matter refers.
I am pleased to advise that the Department has today received your payment of the balance of charges for processing this FOI request. Accordingly please find attached relevant material and covering schedule. If you would like a hard copy of these documents please provide a postal address.
A copy of our receipt will be sent to you shortly.

Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment 1212 F474 Receipt.PDF.pdf
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Dear Mr Reid
Please find attached DFAT receipt acknowledging payment of the balance of charges associated with the above request.

Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch

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David Reid left an annotation ()

I have published some commentary on the cables at http://blog.taiwan-guide.org/2013/03/dfa...

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade only: