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Public education is first step after passage of citizen judges act

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At Thursday's weekly meeting of the Cabinet, Premier Su Tseng-chang received a briefing by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) on a new "citizen judges act," passed by the Legislature on July 22 and promulgated by President Tsai Ing-wen on August 12. The new system specified by the law will go into full effect at the beginning of 2023. The premier said that as with the launch of any reform, it is now the government's prime responsibility to educate the public in order to win even higher confidence in the changes and ensure widespread participation in the new system.

The new system of citizen judges is entirely unprecedented in Taiwan law and represents the first great step in democratizing the judiciary, Premier Su said. It is also an initial fulfillment of President Tsai's promise of judicial reform. When the new system is fully introduced, ordinary citizens and career judges will sit together to try cases in an even more transparent and democratic process sure to engender stronger trust in the judiciary and greater faith in resultant verdicts.

The citizen judges act represents an extremely important judicial reform that requires coordination on all fronts, beginning with public awareness, the premier said. Japan spent five years educating its citizenry, whereas Taiwan has planned just two-and-a-half years to lay the groundwork. Since many in Taiwan are still unfamiliar with the concept of citizen judges, schools at all levels will educate students on the topic. The MOJ, Executive Yuan and Judicial Yuan will also promote the new system as part of their portfolios and encourage the media to help inform the public.

Taiwan is a democratic nation ruled by the people, Premier Su emphasized. It is a country governed by the rule of law where the application and enforcement of laws and regulations are essential. The people have long looked forward to judicial reform, and therefore the premier asked all ministries and agencies to work diligently together for the successful implementation of the new system.

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