These measures are often mentioned and current legislation already gives judicial institutions substantial discretionary powers. The fact that convicted criminals continue to abscond over and over again is likely the result of a rigid bureaucracy and procrastination in execution.
First, the procedures for maintaining control over the defendant have always suffered from problems in execution. Prosecutors and judges can always detain a defendant or adopt other measures, as precautionary measures are better than closing the gate after the horse has bolted.
Second, even if the Supreme Court is unwilling to deal with “trials of fact” that may provide control over the accused, it seems the Supreme Prosecutors Office, or the handling prosecutor, based on the principle of a single unitary prosecutorial system, should not refuse to collaborate in attempts at active prevention.
In cases that gain the attention of the public and where many people think there is a high risk the accused will abscond, the public will find it unacceptable if the authorities maintain the attitude that everything should be handled strictly according to the book and therefore clearly separate the verdict from its execution, thereby leaving a window period between the two events.
The cornerstone of the judiciary is the public’s sense of its fairness and justice. Crime among the powerful and privileged angers the public, a feeling that is further intensified by the perceived weakness and incompetence of the judiciary. Any legal amendments should be effective and adhere to the proportionality principle. Regardless of whether or not the law is amended, the procrastination and rigidity of its implementation are the biggest enemies of judicial reform.
Kao Jung-chih is a lawyer and director of the office of the Judicial Reform Foundation.
Translated by Perry Svensson