The Judicial Reform Foundation yesterday called for more transparency and accountability in the judicial system as it launched a new database containing the written judgements of court cases.
The database will allow the public to scrutinize the decisions and conduct of judges and prosecutors, foundation members said.
“The database is an important addition to our ‘Sunshine Justice’ Web site. We want to have open access to this information, to make it more people-friendly and to bring sunshine into the system,” foundation chairman Lin Yung-sung (林永頌) said.
It took a lot of time and effort to search for and compile the material, since the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Justice have not updated their computer systems or Web site applications, making it difficult to retrieve information on past court case judgements, Lin said.
On the foundation’s Web site, the database is on an Application Programming Interface (API) that allows users to search and access the judgements, as well as information on the prosecutors, judges and lawyers involved in a case, the foundation’s manager of information-technology said.
“We set up the API platform like a search engine to make it convenient for the public to look at the collected materials and court case files over the years. Users can search and access files, and download and store information for studying, referencing or other uses,” Lin said.
Opening court case files to the public could lead to an improved public understanding of how the judicial system works, and in turn promote better transparency and accountability by prosecutors and judges, he said.
Although the public can already search case rulings on the Judicial Yuan’s Web site, that site runs on an older interface system that uses the outdated Big-5 code for Chinese characters, rather than the UTF-8 code format common to most digital devices today, so there could be compatibility problems when people try to access or read the content, Lin and foundation executive director Kao Jung-chih (高榮志) said.
The Judicial Yuan and the ministry need to keep up with technological advancements, Kao said.
He also called on them to implement new policies to open up the digital information resources and update their interface systems to allow the public to access information via their smartphones.
There have long been complaints regarding access problems and a lack of transparency for the Judicial Yuan’s interface system, which was why the foundation decided to develop its API platform to serve regular people, legal scholars and lawyers seeking open information on court cases, Kao said.
The “Sunshine Justice” site is at sunshine.jrf.org.tw.
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