Fri, Jul 29, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Courts dithering on stopping domestic violence, critics say


Two opposition lawmakers yesterday urged the government to improve what they called inefficiency in domestic-violence prevention.

Citing data from the Judicial Yuan, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Wang Yu-ting (王昱婷) and Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) said that only 63 percent of petitions for restraining orders filed at district courts had been approved and that processing of these petitions took an average of 36 days.

The three counties with the highest approval rates are Penghu (81.02 percent), Pingtung (79.89 percent) and outlying Lienchiang (75 percent), while the three counties with the lowest approval rates are Taoyuan (45 percent), Taipei (46.66 percent) and Yunlin (52.61 percent).

The processing of restraining orders is fastest in Penghu, Pingtung and Kaohsiung counties, and slowest in Tainan, Kinmen and Lienchiang counties, data showed.

As for the government's plan to raise the application fee for a restraining order from NT$135 to NT$1,000 next month, Yang said that most victims of domestic violence are financially disadvantaged and that raising the amount would be a heavy burden on them.

Yang urged the government to assist victims with the payment.

Lai Fang-yu (賴芳玉), a lawyer for the Taiwan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said there was still much room for improvement in how local courts handled cases of domestic violence, even though the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (家庭暴力防治法) has been in place for six years.

The government should seek to resolve the problem if staff shortages were responsible for low efficiency, Fang said.

According to Judicial Yuan official Chen Yu-wan (陳玉完), the number of reported domestic violence cases has increased significantly in recent years, but the number of judges has not.

Chen said that applications for a restraining order supported by sufficient evidence are usually processed faster and that emergency aid is available for victims of domestic violence who have a problem paying the fee.

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