NPP wants tougher punishment for bail jumpers

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Oct 17, 2018 - Page 3

The New Power Party (NPP) would push for an amendment to the Criminal Code to make absconding while on bail or after being sentenced to prison punishable by up to three years in prison, party lawmakers told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

A 2016 survey by the Judicial Yuan found that 58.2 percent of the public does not trust the judicial system, and the lack of punishment for those who flee justice could further undermine the judiciary’s image, Legislator Kawlo Iyun Pacidal said.

“The government’s passive attitude toward the matter has already drawn widespread criticism. How ridiculous is it that in this nation running away on bail is not punishable at all,” NPP Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said.

Although the Judicial Yuan and Ministry of Justice have proposed amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法) to make it more difficult for people under indictment or those who have been convicted to abscond, the proposals have not been reviewed by the legislature, he said.

From 2013 to 2015, 3,151 people who had been sentenced to at least three years absconded, many of whom were convicted of major financial crimes or corruption, while 14 percent of people convicted have absconded before serving their sentences, he said.

The NPP has proposed adding an article to the Criminal Code that would make violations against bail conditions punishable by up to three years in prison, while defendants who absconded and have been put on the nation’s wanted list would be face up to five years in prison, Huang said.

“People desperately want a judicial reform, but in the previous and current legislative session, we have not yet seen any progress in that,” he said.

The legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee should schedule reviews on the draft amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Civil Code as soon as possible, he said.

The public would continue to lose faith in the judiciary if the government keeps procrastinating on needed reforms, he added.