Wed, Jan 12, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Judicial reform advocates slam draft judge’s law

FAILING EXPECTATIONS:A reform advocate said only a few people in the Judicial Yuan would conduct judge evaluations and the system could then be manipulated

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Representatives of civic groups yesterday strongly criticized a draft judge’s law that was recently pushed through a legislative committee by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers with the support of Judicial Yuan President Rai Hau-min (賴浩敏).

Calling a press conference to coincide with Law Day, activists urged lawmakers to replace six major elements of the draft law with their proposed suggestions to live up to the campaign pledge made by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Human Rights Day in 2007.

Chiu Hei-yuan (瞿海源), the convener of an alliance of more than 100 civic groups pushing for the creation of evaluation mechanisms to assess the performance of judges and prosecutors, said the KMT version that cleared the committee was no different than the position taken by Rai.

In a TV interview on Monday, Rai defended the version proposed by KMT Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟), Chiu said.

“The version backed by Rai completely fails public expectations,” Chiu said.

At the center of the debate is a set of practices to evaluate judges and whether to abolish examinations — the only means by which judges are selected.

Judicial Reform Foundation executive director Lin Feng-jeng (林峰正) said the evaluation system laid out in the KMT proposal would expose judicial appointments to political manipulation.

Also problematic was the fact that evaluations would only be conducted every five years, the evaluations would not be external and would not be made public, Lin said.

The alliance has proposed that six of the 11 members of the evaluation commission be “disinterested” individuals chosen by popular vote among lawmakers, prosecutors and judges.

However, the KMT version entitles the heads of the legislative, control and judicial -yuans to each make two recommendations.

“The way the evaluation commission is set up opens the door for political manipulation,” Chiu said.

Describing the proposed evaluation mechanism as an ineffective system that would be subordinated to the Judicial Yuan, Lin said: “Everyone can clearly see where the devil lies.”

“We reject the system as the evaluations will be conducted clandestinely by a handful of people in the Judicial Yuan. What good is an evaluation if the results are not made public?” Lin asked.

The alliance also said the KMT draft disregarded the right of a party in a case to file a complaint against judges, which Lin said overrode a consensus that has existed among civil judiciary activists and the Judicial Yuan for many years.

The KMT draft would be ineffective in cleaning out incompetent judges, Lin said.

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