Fri, Sep 07, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Reveal party ties, groups urge judges

TRANSPARENCY The Northern Taiwan Society and Judicial Reform Foundation said a neutral judiciary is very important

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Northern Taiwan Society spoke out yesterday in support of Cabinet Spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey's (謝志偉) call for judges and prosecutors to drop their political affiliations.

"Back in the White Terror era, more than 90 percent of the judges and prosecutors were members of the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT], which was ridiculous," Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒), vice chairman of the society, said at a press conference in Taipei.

Under the KMT regime, the judiciary was controlled by the KMT, he said. As the Democratic Progressive Party government is now seeking transitional justice, it is natural for the government to ask judges and prosecutors to remain neutral, he said.

"In the US, judges must reveal their party affiliations. I do not understand why judges in Taiwan would fear such a request," he said.

Constitution Reform Alliance convener Allen Houng (洪裕宏) suggested that military judges and prosecutors should also have to declare their party affiliations.

"Everybody knows that there are more `biased' cases in the military," Hung said. "Military judicial personnel should contribute to the transitional justice effort as well, as the government seeks to build an independent justice system."

The director-general of the Judicial Reform Foundation, Lin Feng-jeng (林峰正), said it was normal for judges or prosecutors to become a member of a party during the authoritarian era, but it was important to determine whether they did so voluntarily or upon demands from their superiors.

"In the White Terror era, a qualified judge or a prosecutor would not have been able to work if he or she did not join the KMT. These people may be innocent," Lin said. "All we are asking for now is that our judiciary stay completely neutral."

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