Nearly 85 per cent don't trust Taiwan's judges, prosecutors

PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan - According to the figures of a poll released on Monday, an overwhelming majority of Taiwanese citizens do not trust the judges and prosecutors of their legal system, with distrust rising year on year.

A whopping 84.6 per cent of respondents rated judges and prosecutors as untrustworthy and unfair, rising from 76.5 per cent in a poll conducted for 2014. The dissatisfaction was connected with the way respondents perceived fairness in how judges handled cases. Another 76.5 per cent of respondents also expressed parallel dissatisfaction with the fairness of state prosecutors.

The bad ratings were somewhat mitigated by the fact that 86.2 per cent of respondents said they felt safe in and around their home neighborhoods. Ratings for law enforcement also reached an all time high, with 72.9 per cent indicating they were satisfied with efforts to maintain public safety. A total of 43.9 per cent rated public safety to be "good."

Not all areas of crime prevention received favourable ratings, however. Respondents were deeply dissatisfied with measures to prevent government corruption (78.7 per cent).

The poll was conducted by the Crime Research Center of National Chung Cheng University in Chiayi, which asked 1,715 respondents (aged 20 and older) during the period of Jan. 25 to Feb. 2 to rate their impression of the local legal system for 2015. The margin of error was calculated at 2.2 per cent.

The director of the centre, Yang Shih-lung, believed that several rulings in high-profile cases, including the Ting Hsin food safety and public housing projects scandals might have revealed divergences with public opinion. Yang recommended that regulations be implemented to dismiss judges that transgress their duties in order to raise the quality of the judicial system. Failure to respond on these issues could further erode the public's trust in the judicial system, he reasoned.

Heavy Support for Death Penalty

The survey also showed continuing support for capital punishment, with 83 per cent of respondents opposed to repealing the death penalty. Similarly conservative viewpoints on drug users and drug-related crime were prevalent, with 57.3 per cent of respondents believing that drug addicts should not be viewed as patients. Another 78 per cent believed that the government needed to institute penal reforms. The research centre recommended that government agencies commit more resources in order to use Big Data to combat drug abuse and trafficking while improving prevention programs.