Tue, Mar 13, 2018 - Page 1 News List

DPP and Control Yuan members slam judge’s fine

SEXUAL HARRASSMENT:The second trial let former Taipei High Administrative Court judge Chen Hung-pin off with a fine. Lawmakers want the law changed

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

From left, Democratic Progressive Party legislators Karen Yu, Lee Li-feng, Chou Chun-mi, Yu Mei-nu and Liu Shih-fang yesterday hold placards with “stop salty pork hands,” “#MeToo” and other anti-sexual harassment slogans at a news conference in Taipei as they urged that the Judges Act be amended.

Photo: CNA

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday lambasted a court ruling last week that allowed a judge convicted of sexual harassment to just pay a fine instead of losing his job, a ruling that was also criticized by two Control Yuan members.

The Judicial Yuan’s Court of the Judiciary in 2016 ruled that former Taipei High Administrative Court judge Chen Hung-pin (陳鴻斌) had sexually harassed his assistant and that he should be dismissed.

It was the first time a court had ordered a Taiwanese judge to be dismissed for sexual harassment, while the Control Yuan also impeached Chen for misconduct.

Chen appealed the ruling, and on Thursday the court overturned its previous ruling and decided to fine Chen an amount equal to his annual salary, or about NT$2.16 million (US$73,770). The verdict said that Chen was repentant and that only three of the eight alleged incidents of misconduct, which included kissing and hugging the assistant, constituted harassment.

However, the verdict was not a unanimous decision. Taiwan High Court Judge Hsieh Ching-hui (謝靜慧), one of the five judges presiding over the appeal, tendered her resignation after failing to convince her colleagues to uphold the original ruling.

DPP lawmakers hosting a news conference yesterday condemned the new ruling and said that they would seek to amend the Judges Act (法官法) to introduce external members to the Court of the Judiciary in a bid to improve its transparency and diversity.

DPP Legislator Chou Chun-mi (周春米) said the second trial was flawed by several procedural and other issues, such as the Court of the Judiciary not being chaired by the Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Committee chief commissioner, as required by law.

The ruling also failed to take into account structural factors contributing to sexual harassment, such as Chen abusing his power to harass the victim, Chou said.

“The Court of the Judiciary revoked its previous ruling and handed down a lenient monetary punishment, suggesting an ethical double standard in the judiciary as well as improperly covering up for a fellow judge,” DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) said.

DPP Legislator Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) said it was regrettable that male chauvinism was still prevalent in society, and that even judges are tolerant of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang (呂太郎) told lawmakers during a question-and-answer session of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday that the second ruling did not meet public expectation or the ethical standards of the judiciary.

However, the ruling is final, unless the Control Yuan decides to appeal it, Lu said.

The Control Yuan later said that it would file an appeal.

Control Yuan members Wang Mei-yu (王美玉) and Fang Wan-fu (方萬富), who handled the Control Yuan investigation into Chen and launched the impeachment procedure, said the second ruling was unreasonably different from the first.

They also cited the failure of the committee commissioner to chair the trial, saying that it suggested flaws in the legal process.

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