(Jan. 19, 2011) It was reported on January 6, 2011, that a draft Judges Act aimed at promoting judicial probity by providing a mechanism for evaluating individual judges and dismissing those with poor performance records has passed a first reading in the Legislative Yuan. The Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committees approved the draft on January 5. The evaluation committee would comprise “a committee of other judges, prosecutors and representatives of lawyers, the Legislature, Control Yuan and Judicial Yuan,” with evaluations to be conducted every five years. (Grace Kuo, Judges Law Begins Passage Through Legislature, TAIWAN TODAY (Jan. 6, 2011), http://taiwantoday.tw/ct.asp?xItem=142142&ctNode=452&mp=9.) The committee would also screen matters involving “recruitment, dismissal, transfer, suspension, …, discipline, extension of tenure and other related affairs.” (Cabinet Approves Draft Bill on Removal of Unfit Judges, THE CHINA POST (May 14, 2010), http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2010/05/14/256
427/Cabinet-approves.htm.) The Judicial Yuan is Taiwan's highest judicial organ; the Control Yuan is the supreme organ of oversight, exercising powers of censure, impeachment, and audit.
Another key feature of the bill is the proposed establishment of a disciplinary system, under which a court would try judges accused of incompetence and improper behavior. The bill stipulates stricter disciplinary measures than those now in force, including, as the most severe punishment, revocation of the judicial appointment, loss of civil servant status, and disqualification from practicing law. Under current law, judges who have been dismissed from office may still serve as civil servants. Other proposed penalties include suspension from office for a period of more than one but less than five years, transfer, and fines. (Kuo, supra.)
Other significant stipulations of the draft law include:
- the requirement that those judges who have retired or resigned who wish to become lawyers obtain proof of a “good service record” from the Judicial Yuan (Grace Kuo, supra); and
- a prohibition against Constitutional Court justices and judges at various levels “holding membership in any political party or taking part in any party activities during their tenure” and against their competing in elections for public posts. Judges who wish to run for public office must resign or retire a year before registering their candidacy (CHINA POST, supra).
In another recent judicial development, on January 12, 2011, Taiwan signed a cooperation protocol with France to augment judicial training exchanges. The aim of the agreement is to enhance ties between the two countries' judicial training institutes, namely, the Taiwan Ministry of Justice's Training Institute for Judges and Prosecutors (TIJP) and the French National School for the Judiciary. (Taiwan, France Sign Judicial Training Cooperation Pact, TAIWAN TODAY (Jan. 13, 2011), http://taiwantoday.tw/ct.asp?xItem=143816&ctNode=452&mp=9.) The TIJP also has training accords with its counterparts in Japan and Russia. Lin Hui-huang, Director of the TIJP, was quoted as saying, “such cooperation can help broaden the international perspective of judges through the sharing of legal knowledge and judicial experience. It also facilitates exchanges of international legal information.” (Id.)