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Judicial group calls for reforms
Central News Agency
Page 2
2009-01-08 01:35 PM
The nongovernmental organization Judicial Reform Foundation urged the Ministry of Justice and the Judicial Yuan yesterday to propose concrete steps and a timetable for judicial reform to protect human rights and rebuild the public's confidence in the judicial system.

Judicial Reform Foundation Chief-Executive Lin Feng-cheng, foundation chairman Huang Rei-ming, and a number of other legal activists made the appeal at a news conference held ahead of Jan. 11's Law Day.

Huang said that instead of holding a celebration featuring singing and belly dancing for Law Day, the Judicial Yuan should concentrate on fulfilling public expectations for judicial reform.

According to recent surveys conducted by Academia Sinica and the Web site Yahoo! Kimo, over 50 percent of the people do not believe in Taiwan's judicial system and over 75 percent have no confidence that the Judicial Yuan will undertake judicial reform, Lin said.

On the eve of the 2007 World Human Rights Day during his presidential campaign, President Ma Ying-jeou pledged to protect judicial human rights, but seven months after his inauguration, the Judicial Yuan has not yet made any progress on the issue, Lin added.

Insufficient evidence

"Ma vowed to defend judicial human rights but if the Judicial Yuan cannot propose concrete steps and a timetable, I'm afraid that the check Ma wrote will just end up bouncing," he said.

Citing the case of Ko Fang-tzer - a former assistant bank manager who was acquitted in a loan-related case that dragged on for 30 years - Lin said such cases proved that the judicial system and indictment procedures should be reviewed.

After 12 appeal hearings with 107 different judges, the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that Ko was innocent of all charges because of insufficient evidence at the time of the indictment.

The court, however, refused to compensate Ko for the 925 days he was wrongfully detained. Both Lin and Ko said at the news conference that they are seeking an interpretation of the ruling from Taiwan's constitutional court.

Another attendee of the press conference, Taiwan Labor Front Secretary-General Sun Yo-lien, urged reform to help those with limited means gain equal access to justice.

Sun said speedy trials are especially important in labor-related cases because workers do not have adequate resources and time to fight for what they deserve.

As for judicial efficiency, Taipei Bar Association Secretary-General Kao Yung-cheng contended that there should be a mechanism in place to monitor judges and prosecutors because judges rarely hold prosecutors accountable for improper indictments.

This apathetic judicial culture makes the overall system inefficient, Kao argued.

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