Taiwan Church News
September 13~19, 2010
Christian-seeker judge urges public to pick on existing laws, not judges
Reported by Chen Wei-jien
Written by Lydia Ma
In recent weeks, a series of trials involving sexual abuse of young girls that ended with overly light sentences have sparked public uproar across Taiwan and cast doubts on the integrity of judges and the judicial system in general.
In response to the flurry of negative publicity judges have gotten as result of these lenient rulings, one judge who happens to be a Christian-seeker and regular churchgoer in central Taiwan said a lot of his colleagues who tried to judge fairly and with integrity had been feeling under pressure lately due to indiscriminate public backlash.
This judge, who preferred to remain anonymous, confided that lenient sentences for child molestation had sparked a lot of debate among judges too. But he pointed out that judges are required to pass down sentences based on existing laws and regulations. Most of these laws were passed after a lot of scrutiny and haggling in the legislature from experts and social groups.
He underscored there is proper recourse to public dissatisfaction with court rulings and said that people who feel their expectations for justice weren’t met should seek recourse by amending existing regulation, instead of making general or personal attacks on judges and their integrity.
Presently, Taiwanese laws stipulate that any offender charged with sexually molesting a child less than seven years of age must receive a minimum of seven years in prison.
“To a certain extent, we judges have been asked to do work that only God is qualified to do,” this judge concluded. He emphasized that as long as humans are the ones doing the judging mistakes will always be a possibility – hence the reason for a system of appeals to compensate for human error.
In Taiwan, defendants have a legal right to appeal a district court’s ruling to a high court, and a high court’s ruling to the Supreme Court, if they aren’t satisfied. This “three appeals” mechanism acts as a system of checks and balances against human error.
Speaking for himself on how he is weathering the current public storm, this judge remarked candidly, “Judges who have a religious faith manage to ride it out because they can face these pressures with a sense of serenity.”