Fri, Sep 24, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Civic groups push independent panel to assess judges

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Several civic groups yesterday urged the legislature to adopt an independent mechanism to assess judges and prosecutors so that unsuitable ones may be eliminated.

The call comes in the wake of public criticism over recent cases in which offenders were given what critics decried as lenient sentences.

One of the controversial cases involves the ruling by the Kaohsiung District Court last month on Lin Yi-fang (林義芳) who was charged in February with “digitally raping” (with his hands) a six-year-old girl.

Rather than finding him guilty of “sexual assault,” which is punishable by three to 10 years in jail, the court said that because the girl “did not show a strong will” in fighting off her attacker, Lin was convicted of “having sex with person age under 14 years of age,” and was sentenced to three years and two months in prison.

“We are here to present our own version of a bill for evaluating judges and prosecutors, because we think that judges and prosecutors should be evaluated by an independent panel and that those who are found unsuitable by the panel after investigation should no longer serve on the bench,” Judicial Reform Foundation (JRF) executive director Lin Feng-jeng (林峰正) told a news conference yesterday, urging the legislature to pass the law in the new legislative session, which is slated to begin today.

“I’ve heard a judge saying things like ‘what’s the big deal about the right to work’ to an employee whom we helped in a lawsuit against the employer,” secretary-general of Taiwan Labour Front, Son Yu-lian (孫友聯) told the same press conference. “Judges like that are certainly not suitable to serve on the bench anymore.”

Hung Hsin-ping (洪心平), a specialist with the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, said that she has seen many women being treated unfairly in the court when her organization provided legal assistance to them.

While the Judicial Yuan has also proposed its own version of a bill to evaluate judges, JRF chairman Lin Yung-sung (林永頌) said theirs is better.

“The non-governmental version aims for an independent panel with some seats reserved for representatives from non-governmental representatives, while the Judicial Yuan wants to create a judiciary evaluation panel under the Judicial Yuan consisting of senior judges and prosecutors,” he said. “I think people would question the impartiality of a judiciary evaluation panel as proposed by the Judicial Yuan.”

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