Sat, Jan 26, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Trust diminishing for judiciary

By Chang Kuo-tsai 張國財

How can we put a stop to this kind of thing? How can we prevent the judiciary from trampling on people, wronging and cheating them? How can the system be salvaged?

Su has been put through the mill for more than four years finally to be found innocent of all charges. If she decides to claim state compensation for false imprisonment, will it take another four years of legal wrangling before she can get it? Life is short; who can afford to spend so many years wrestling with the law?

As the public sees it, prosecutors often grasp at shadows, detain people first, then find evidence to fit the charges later, and also dance to the tune of a certain political party.

If prosecutors do not change their attitude, the presumption of innocence will be replaced by the presumption of guilt, and the idea that it is better to let 100 guilty people go free than execute a single innocent one will get turned on its head.

Instead of following the legally correct procedure of relying on witness statements and material evidence, prosecutors in Taiwan act more like judicial thugs working for political ends.

When they are investigating someone belonging to their favored party they build a firewall around the case, keeping everyone in the dark on the grounds that investigations should not be made public.

However, when they are investigating those belonging to the other side they subject them to trial by media, freely discussing every detail of the ongoing investigation.

There is a long way to go before Taiwan’s judiciary can be said to be fully free from political interference.

Do prosecutors really have the right to lay charges at will against anyone they want to detain?

If ordinary members of the public throw around false accusations they risk being prosecuted for slander or libel. What about prosecutors? What laws exist, if any, by which charges of false prosecution or false imprisonment can be brought against prosecutors when they detain and indict people on trumped-up charges?

A number of DPP politicians have been prosecuted on charges of corruption, but the vast majority of them have been found innocent –– has any prosecutor ever faced charges of false imprisonment or false indictment as a result?

Given this sorry state of affairs, it is clear who is to blame for the fact that Taiwanese have so little trust in the judiciary.

Chang Kuo-tsai is a former deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Association of University Professors.

Translated by Paul Cooper

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