Calls for Stricter Penalties in Taiwan for Possessing Child Sex Abuse Images

Calls are growing in Taiwan to increase the penalty for possessing images depicting child sex abuse following a controversial case involving one of the country’s top presenters.

Mickey Huang Tzu-chiao was fined 1.2 million NTD ($37,000; £30,000) and ordered to write an apology letter after authorities discovered seven videos featuring minors on his portable hard drive. However, Huang will avoid prosecution if he remains law-abiding for two years.

In response to criticism, the TV host issued an apology, stating, “I will never make this mistake again.”

Campaigners have raised concerns about the prosecutor’s decision, questioning why the penalty was not more severe given the serious nature of the charges.

The Taipei-based Modern Women’s Foundation expressed dissatisfaction with the penalties, describing them as “truly insignificant for someone with such social reputation and financial resources” in a Facebook post. A group of Taiwanese celebrities also joined the conversation, issuing an open letter urging lawmakers to enhance penalties for child abuse and sexual exploitation offenses.

“The society often treats these incidents as news events. There is criticism, but the dark clouds disperse after a while and everyone forgets about it,” the letter reads. “We hope to transform our anxiety into strength to push the Legislative Yuan to revise the law and establish a stronger safety net for Taiwan’s children.”

Under Taiwanese law, anyone found in possession of sexual images or videos involving a minor without justification could face imprisonment for up to one year and a fine ranging from 30,000 to 300,000 NTD.

In comparison, the United States imposes penalties of up to 10 years in prison for possession of such materials. In Japan, the sentence for similar offenses is up to one year in prison or fines of up to a maximum of 1 million yen ($6,600; £5,200).

Huang, 52, is a well-known figure in Taiwan, having started his career in the late 1980s and rising to prominence as one of the island’s top television hosts. Over the years, he has received numerous awards and has been the face of several popular shows in the country.

Last year, Huang faced scrutiny after two women accused him of sexual misconduct during the MeToo movement that swept through Taiwan. Allegations included claims that he forcibly kissed a 17-year-old and coerced her into taking nude photos during a separate incident a decade ago, as well as allegations of sexual coercion with another individual in 2013.

Huang publicly apologized for these incidents, which prompted police investigations. However, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office recently announced that they would not pursue charges further due to a lack of “objective evidence” and settlements reached between Huang and the accusers.

During a search of Huang’s property as part of the investigation into the women’s allegations, police discovered seven videos depicting minors, which Huang admitted to downloading in 2023.

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