Thu, Jan 08, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Advocates slam judiciary

NO BELLY-DANCERS? As officials celebrate Judicial Day, reform advocates said the entertainment should be replaced with speeches by those wronged by the system

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Judicial reform advocates yesterday accused the legal system of being apathetic toward public woes for holding a boisterous Judicial Day celebration tomorrow, complete with belly-dancers, while promises of a judicial overhaul remained unfulfilled.

“While there are many unjust lawsuits and wrong verdicts waiting to be appealed and the people’s rights are being trampled, our Ministry of Justice and Judicial Yuan are partying and having fun,” said Remington Huang (黃瑞明), president of the Judicial Reform Foundation, urging President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), a former justice minister, to make good on the judicial reform pledge he made prior to World Human Rights Day in 2007 while on the campaign trail.

The event tomorrow will include a skit performance by officers from the Kaohsiung Juvenile Court, while the Shilin District Court will put on an aerobic dance number and six people from Taoyuan District Court will sing Careless Whisper and another pop song, among other entertainment.

What should take place, said Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠), secretary-general of the Taipei Bar Association, should be speeches by wrongfully imprisoned victims and those who have been falsely indicted by prosecutors.

A former assistant bank manager, Ke Fang-cher (柯芳澤), said he has been embroiled in a legal battle since 1979 when he was indicted in a credit-related crime. The case was heard 12 times in front of 107 judges and finally, after 30 years, on the 13th hearing, a Supreme Court judge ruled he was innocent because of insufficient evidence provided by the prosecutors at the time of the indictment.

Despite the favorable ruling, Ke said, the court still refused to make restitution for his 925 days of wrongful detention. Ke is in the middle of an appeal to receive compensation.

Sun Yo-lien (孫友聯), Taiwan Labor Front secretary-general, said many blue-collar workers are victims of a complicated and high-priced legal process.

“Speedy and fair trials are especially important to basic laborers because they do not have the money for a long, drawn-out case,” he said, adding that he wondered if judges were sufficiently knowledgeable on labor laws.

The advocates said a clear separation must be imposed between the prosecutors and the courts to avoid conflicts of interest.

The Judicial Reform Foundation said two recent surveys of 5,862 respondents showed that 56 percent of the sample expressed no confidence in the judicial reform led by the Judicial Yuan and 44 percent said the courts must increase their accuracy rate.

Close to 60 percent of respondents said they could not recall any judicial reforms in the past year, it added.

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