Briefing of Judicial Reform
In 2017, President Tsai Ing-wen convened the National Conference on Judicial Reform, thus promoting the juridical reform.
The core values of this judicial reform include: a justice system by the people and for the people; its strategies shall be directed by the President with participation by the people; the reform progress is as follows: Firstly, opinions on judicial reform are widely collected and then categorized. That is followed by National Conference group sessions and convening a summary meeting of the National Conference in which a consensuses is reached. Finally, the reforms are implemented.
The role of the Ministry of Justice in the judicial reform: acting as aides for the Conference along with the Judicial Yuan, and later implementing our respectively assigned tasks regarding the resolutions of the Conference.
Soliciting opinions widely to ensure that the expectations for and opinions on judicial reform come from all sectors of the community:
Systematic, in-depth collection of judicial reform issues via the aforesaid channels.
Organizing the National Conference
On November 21, 2016, the Presidential Office announced the amended Point 3 of the Establishment Guidelines of the Presidential Office Preparatory Committee for National Conference on Judicial Reform , as well as the list of the 17 members of the Preparatory Committee for the National Conference on Judicial Reform. Point 3 of the Guidelines stipulates the following: “The Preparatory Committee adopts task-based organization and consists of 15 to 21 members, with the President acting as Convener. The remaining members will be constituted by representatives from government authorities, academics and experts, and members of the public, all of whom are to be appointed by the President. Also, one to two members will be designated as Deputy Convener(s). Of the members of the Preparatory Committee, no more than half shall be legal professionals, and no less than one third shall be of a single sex.”
The Preparatory Committee comprised 17 members (of which 11 are male and 6 female). Apart from the convener, members included 2 delegates from government authorities, 9 academics and experts, and 5 individuals from the public.
The Preparatory Committee convened six meetings, and was responsible for drawing up five group session agendas, creating members lists, and establishing rules of procedure.
The conference was divided into 5 groups, whose respective themes are specified as follows:
Human rights: A justice system that protects victims and underprivileged groups
Trust: A justice system that is fair, professional, and trusted by the people
Efficiency: An efficient justice system in which power conforms with accountability
Friendliness: A justice system that is participatory, transparent, and accessible
Security: A justice system that protects social security
The organization and convention of group sessions
The Presidential Office Preparatory Committee for National Conference on Judicial Reform officially announced the list of group session members on February 17, 2017. A total of 101 members were from various backgrounds, of which 15 were elected judges , prosecutors, and lawyers, 70 were recommended by the Preparatory Committee, and 16 were members of the Preparatory Committee.
Each subgroup comprised 17 members, plus 3 or 4 Preparatory Committee members (one of which acted as the convener), totaling 20 to 21 members for each group.
Non-professionals shall account for over a half of the members in each group.
From February 20, 2017, to early June 2017, sessions of each group were held each two weeks, and 7-10 sessions were held in each group. A total of more than 200 resolutions have been made.
The sixth meeting of Preparatory Committee for the National Conference on Judicial Reform took place on July 10, 2017, and was followed by a press conference. The meeting summarized the main points of each group's resolutions, put forward 12 major issues, and announced a summary meeting convened by the President on August 12 of that year in the Presidential Office.
Apart from confirming the 12 major issues, the summary meeting also included reform proposals and timetable reports from the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Justice.
Important contents of the Judicial Reform
The 12 major issues of the summary meeting—A summary of group session resolutions
Promoting a justice system in which the people participate (e.g., citizen judges and people's prosecution review committee)
Enhancing the transparency of justice system (e.g., open access to indictments, court live broadcasts, and digitization of judicial information)
Creating a professional and impartial judicial system (e.g., constitutional complaint, pyramidization of organization, specialty courts, and personnel system reform )
Improving legal talent development and promotion (e.g., all-in-one legal professional examination and training, talent development policy reform, and alternative promotion methods)
A prosecution investigation system in which power conforms with accountability (e.g., judge and prosecutor performance evaluation , and lawyer disciplinary system reform )
Perfect evidential rule and remedies for wrongful conviction (e.g., special law for evidence, verdict review system – conviction perfection project)
Protect privacy and rights of underprivileged groups (e.g., enhancing secret investigationaccountability, improvement of victim protection and litigation standing, and constructing a friendly judicial environment)
Establish mechanisms for child and youth protection (e.g., juvenile detention institution reform, child abuse prevention policies review, and child protection enhancement)
Effective crime fighting and criminal policy review (e.g., financial tracing and escape prevention, Whistleblower Protection Act, alternative drug treatment policies, prison reform, and criminal studies)
10. Practice restorative justice (e.g., restorative judiciary institutionalization, and stages of implementation of restorative justice)
11. Legal and rule-of-law education for society (e.g., legal education reform and universalization of citizen rule-of-law education)
12. Prevention of vexatious litigation and improvement of judicial efficiency (e.g., alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and vexatious litigation prevention)
There are numerous and diverse issues in judicial reform; some resolutions are abstract, others are concrete, still others are controversial. The Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Justice shall draw up reform proposals and timetables based on the people's expectation and viable agendas, and then immediately commit to their promotion and implementation.
In addition, external communication will continue in the form of public information on Internet platforms, progress report via press conference every six months, and advocacy via multiple channels.
Priority reform categories
Common priority reform categories for the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Justice:
The people's participation in trial – citizen judges
Elevating the victim's standing in litigation
Assessment and elimination of judges and prosecutors
Alternative judge and prosecutor promotion
Enhancing interpretation system
Priority reform categories for Judicial Yuan
Constitutional review system for judgments
Pyramidization of litigation and organization
A grand tribunal system with unified legal opinions
Priority reform categories for the Ministry of Justice
Creating an impartial system of prosecution
Personnel system reform, institutionalization of case conclusion, and removal of "court" from the names of prosecutors offices
Establishing a transparent investigation system in which power conforms with accountability
Open access to indictment, introduction of people's prosecution review committee, investigation team work model, and enhancement of secret investigation.
Elevating the professional effectiveness of the prosecuting body
Alternative promotions, professional certification system, relief, and simplification of case processing
Remedies for wrongful conviction
Establishing case conviction review system (conviction perfection project)
Promoting major criminal policies
Financial tracing (including seizure and confiscation of criminal proceeds), escape- prevention mechanism , proposed the draft of “Whistleblower Protection Act”, introduction of offense against judicial impartiality, and anti-corruption system
The prison reform and the improvement of prisoners’ human rights
Amendments to the Prison Act and the Detention Act
Interdepartmental priority reform categories for the Executive Yuan
Child and youth protection
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Current reform progress of the MOJ
Improving current judiciary development system before the passing of the “All-in-One Examination and Training System”:
The Academy for the Judiciary has extended the period of internship outside the Academy and shortened the hours of centralized training. With regard to the internship location, besides adding correction authorities, more locations will be offered for students to choose from. After the internship period extension, the current percentages of study hours within the Academy and internship hours outside the Academy have become 38.7% and 61.3% respectively, thus gradually realizing the transition to internship-centered training.
Diversification of prosecutor sources – alternative promotions
A. Normalizing the transfer of excellent lawyers to prosecutors via election:
Transferring lawyers to prosecutors via election has become normalized since 2017 (and implemented on an yearly basis). The 2017 lawyer election was completed; after 52 weeks of pre-job training, a total of 8 excellent lawyers have been distributed to prosecutors offices and started their new jobs by the end of 2018.
B. Formulating an administrative prosecutor transfer system
C. Studied and composed draft amendments to Articles 87 and 88 of the Judges Act, in which those having served as administrative prosecutors for six years or longer with excellent performance and having passed the qualification examinations for lawyers may be elected prosecutors.
D. Study of the military judge transfer system
Since the amendment to Article 66-4 of the Court Organic Act was passed in 2017, 15 military officers have been officially redeployed to local prosecutors offices to be in charge of administrative prosecutor matters on December 28, 2017. The viability of nominating military judges-elect, who have also performed the duties of administrative prosecutors for a certain period of time, as candidates in prosecutor elections, will also be studied.
Open access to indictment
Complete amendment to Article 83 of the Court Organic Act. Criminal case indictments should be publicly available immediately after first-instance judgments.
Renaming prosecutors offices
In 2018, Article 114-2 of the Court Organic Act was amended, and now stipulates that the names of prosecution offices shall no longer contain the word “court”; The amended Article 5 of Ministry of Justice Organization Act also renamed the Supreme Court Prosecutors Office as the Supreme Prosecutors Office, and the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors Office as the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office, to realize the principle of separation of the judiciary from prosecution.
Prosecution personnel reform
A. Establishing first and second-instance rotational appointment system to render prosecution office personnel flexible
Establishing Implementation Directions for Rotational Appointment of Prosecutors in Prosecutors Offices under the High Court and its Lower Courts, and instructing the prosecution offices via official letter on the personnel matters for the present year on April 3, 2018.
B. Internal democracy of personnel matters – institutionalization of first-instance head prosecutor election recommendation
On March 26, 2018, Directions for Elections of Prosecutors and Head Prosecutors of Prosecutors Offices in all Levels of Courts was amended and announced. Article 3 of those Directions stipulates that the election and appointment of prosecutors in prosecutors offices under local courts shall follow the regulations made by individual prosecutors offices.
Establishing case conviction review mechanism – conviction perfection project
On June 13, 2017, Guidelines for the Prosecution Offices’ Review of Case Convictions was announced, and the Case Conviction Review Committee was set up at the Taiwan High Court. More than half of the members are external experts, including authentication experts, forensic experts, retired judges, lawyers, and academics. They shall review case convictions, and, when filing of extraordinary appeal or retrial is deemed necessary, shall transfer the cases to the Chief Prosecutor or the handling prosecutors for further handling in accordance with relevant laws.
Completed the amendment to Crime Victim Protection Enhancement Plan
This amendment adds relevant concrete measures to be taken, including interdepartmental coordination meetings and regular publications of crime victim protection service white papers, offer of care, support, and compensation request services for victims, improvement of victims’ acquisition of litigation information, and improvement of the victims’ ability to participate in legal procedures.
A. Proposing draft amendments to the Prison Act and the Detention Act：
Focus of Amendment: Establishing judicial assistance channels for parole and imprisonment, protect prisoners’ freedom of correspondence privacy, and introduce restorative justice into the correctional system.
B. Improving the correctional environments, security and medical care :
Expanding and relocating three correctional institutions (to implement the “one-bed-per-inmate” policy)
The total number of guard, control and counseling personnel to be supplemented in the budget approved by the Executive Yuan is 400; 172 have been supplemented in 2017.
Increasing the capacity of criminal prosecution in the Criminal Code
A. Amending and establishing anti-corruption laws
Proposing draft amendments to provisions regarding bribery in the Criminal Code, and drafting bills regarding offense of trading in influence and civil servant gratuities
B. Introducing offense against judicial impartiality
Proposing draft bills of offense against security order, abscondment, witness tampering and retaliation, obstruction to criminal investigation, and contempt of court
C. Environmental Offenses (Article 190-1 of the Criminal Code)
Offenses against the environment are redefined as crimes constituted by abstract endangerment of legal interests; attempts and criminal negligence will be punished
D. Propose an integrated draft “Whistleblower Protection Act” for both public and private sectors
Promoting interdepartmental exchange and utilization of digital certificate
Continue the digitalization of case certificates, and achieve the goals of digital certificate re-use and resource sharing. Since June 2018, interdepartmental exchanges have been promoted. Exchanges of digital certificates among 13 prosecution authorities through the Internet have been activated. In addition, to exempt prosecution offices from the requirement to bring paper-based certificates when transferring cases to the court for trial after indictment, prosecution offices will simply negotiate with their corresponding courts according to individual operating requirements to exercise public prosecutions. It is expected that such paperless procedures in the 30 prosecution offices in Taiwan will complete promotion and become available online by the end of May 2019.