Monday, September 12, 2005

More on Judicial Corruption

The usual method of finding the source of judicial corruption is by blaming "Chinese culture" or some similar nebulous essentialism, but the reality is that corruption is usually the result of concrete public policy choices. The Taipei Times had a fairly decent article today that pointed out systemic flaws:

A lead prosecutor at Kaohsiung's Taiwan High Prosecutors' Office, Chang Hsueh-ming (張學明), said prosecutors actually enjoy too much power. Chang said that under the Court Organic Law (法院組織法), the head prosecutor and lead prosecutor in each prosecutors' office should supervise the criminal cases handled by prosecutors. But in practice, this is difficult to carry out.

At the Taipei Prosecutors' Office and Kaohsiung Prosecutors' Office, for example, Chang said that each prosecutor handles 80 to 90 criminal cases a month. With about 100 prosecutors in each of the two offices, the head and lead prosecutors are too busy to oversee every case. As a result, Chang said, prosecutors are able to decide whether or not to indict defendants, meaning that they enjoy more power than the law actually gives them.

Any system where there is a shortage of resources (prosecutors and assistants) combined with little oversight and immense workloads, is going to produce corruption. Doesn't matter whether you have Chinese, Kenyans, Americans, or Swiss. Power corrupts.

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