Wed, Dec 10, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Premier pledges NT$1bn for legal assistance fund

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday pledged to set aside NT$1 billion to establish a legal assistance foundation for people who cannot afford lawyers, and to earmark NT$500 million to fund operations for the first year.

"Since public attorneys are currently overloaded with cases, we thought it was necessary to set up a publicly-owned, privately-run foundation to provide legal assistance to both underprivileged and ordinary people in their penal and civil litigation," Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) quoted Premier Yu Shui-kun as saying yesterday morning.

Yu made the remark after receiving 12 representatives from the Alliance to Promote Three Judicial Reform Bills (司改三法推動聯盟).

The alliance petitioned Yu to help push for the passage of the legal assistance law (法律扶助法), the judge law (法官法) and draft amendments to the Organic Law of the Judicial Yuan (司法院組織法).

Cross-party negotiations conducted yesterday in the legislature concluded that all parties would make efforts to pass the legal assistance law during this legislative session, which is scheduled to finish by the end of year.

They also agreed to establish a legal assistance foundation to help low-income or underprivileged families, including Aborigines, to hire lawyers in criminal and civil lawsuits, as well as to provide legal assistance to ordinary people.

Yu yesterday also requested that the Ministry of Education map out short, mid- and long term plans to strengthen legal education.

Because the Cabinet does not have the final say on the passage of amendments to the Organic Law of the Judicial Yuan, Chiu Hei-yuan (瞿海源), convenor of the alliance, said that the government is obliged to help promote its swift approval in the legislature.

"Our judicial system is flawed and has been malfunctioning. At the center of the problem is the structure of the judicial system and the Judicial Yuan," Chiu said.

The draft has been bogged down in the legislative procedure for more than a year.

According to the draft, the Su-preme Court, the Administrative Supreme Court and the Government Evaluation Committee would be dismissed and replaced by three new departments under the Judicial Yuan.

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