Alexa

New system in appointing prosecutors seen as crucial

New system in appointing prosecutors seen as crucial
In order prevent the state public prosecutor general from being at the mercy of the president and administration, the Legislature should push through an amendment that stipulates that the nation's top law enforcement official should not only be appointed by the president but also confirmed by the Legislature, anti-corruption action alliance said yesterday.

"We will label those legislators who oppose the amendment accomplices of corrupt officials," said Chien Hsi-chieh (簡鍚堦), head of the pan-purple alliance and a backer of judicial reform.

According to existing regulations, the Legislature has no legal power to confirm the top prosecutor who is currently directly appointed by the president.

Sixty legislators, including more than 20 Democratic Progressive Party legislators, proposed that the Court Organic Law should be amended to authorize the Legislature to confirm the state public prosecutor general.

Lawmakers pointed out that they proposed the amendment because the public seemed to have lost faith in the impartiality of prosecutors investigating certain cases. They also noted that the justice minister often intervenes in prosecutors' investigations, treating prosecutors as administrative officials.

And, without resolving the problem of the overlap in duties between the state public prosecutor general and the justice minister the prosecutorial system must be considered incomplete, lawmakers contended.

The legislators said that, if the president appoints and the Legislature confirms the state public prosecutor general, it will prevent the top law enforcement official from simply being a lackey of the administration and the president, as, they claimed, is likely the case at present.

Meanwhile, legislators also urged the government to set up a special investigating agency under the Prosecutor Office in order to enhance the efficiency of that law enforcement agency.

However, last week, lawmakers failed to reach consensuses on these two issues.

Yesterday, the alliance urged lawmakers to pass the amendment before the end of the second legislative session, warning that they would make public the names of any lawmakers who boycotted the proposed amendment, and brand them advocates of corruption.

The alliance claimed that the top prosecutor's tenure should not exceed four years and that he or she should not seek a second term in order to allow other outstanding prosecutors the opportunity to serve in the post.

Prosecutors Reform Foundation Convener Chen Chih-ming said the post of state public prosecutor general is so important that the top prosecutor should be confirmed by the lawmaking body and be supervised by the Legislature, which represents the public.

The Legislature serving as a check and balance to the President and the administration would be more of a guarantee of the independence of the prosecutorial system and the state public prosecutor general, Chen said.

In response to the debate over the issue, the Ministry of Justice issued a statement yesterday, stressing that though the top prosecutor is directly named by the president, his independent status would not affected by Cabinet reshuffles. It is, therefore, unnecessary to amend the law, the ministry claimed.

Also, if lawmakers want to reform the prosecutorial system and the Court Organic Law, they will first have to address the Constitution, the ministry pointed out.