Recommendations of the Control Yuan on Forensic Science
January 17, 2020
On January 17, 2020, Taiwan’s Control Yuan published a report of an investigation into the forensic science system, aiming to understand how it operates, how experts assist judges in determining facts, how forensic science agencies improve the quality of their findings, and how courts decide whether to admit forensic evidence, etc. The investigation results will be used to make recommendations to forensic science reform, thereby strengthen public confidence in the justice system.
Full text of the report LINK
The main conclusions and recommendations of the report are given as follows:
First, Taiwan’s National Conference on Judicial Reform in 2017 concluded that an independent national forensic science committee should be established. Instead of carrying out examinations, it is widely agreed that the committee should be responsible for solving questions concerning the forensic science community, ensuring that forensic science agencies do follow the requirements, and providing advice in this regard to judges. In terms of forensic science reform, the conference also demanded more efforts to establish professional standards, introduce certification and accreditation mechanisms, and improve forensic science training.
Second, the shortage of medical examiner should be addressed. Besides, to upgrade forensic autopsy facilities and equipment, thus improve the accuracy of examination, the feasibility of investing more resources in forensic science branches under medicine centers to establish “BLS-3 and BLS-3+ forensic autopsy laboratories” should be studied.
Third, efforts should be made to assess forensic science agencies’ workforce, train practitioners, improve techniques, complete the accreditation of laboratories, improve the accuracy of examination, and strengthen the integration of forensic science agencies’ forensic databases against the backdrop of the government’s policy to downsize and reduce expenditure. In addition, to avoid the misapplication or misinterpretation of forensic results, judges should be given the fundamental knowledge of forensic science. At the same time, the justice department should consider inviting forensic science agencies to assist in developing standards for reviewing forensic test results.
Fourth, universal requirements for the training, certification, and oversight of polygraph examiners should be set up. In addition, the standard operating procedure of polygraph examinations should be integrated to ensure the accuracy of such tests.
Fifth, to protect a defendant’s right to confront forensic examiners at trial, the court should summon the forensic expert directly responsible for the production of test results to examine the expert’s qualifications, expertise, and impartiality, as well as examination process and results, etc. through cross-examination.
Sixth, to ensure the chain of custody of the evidence, the court should closely examine the competent authority’s process related to the care of evidence from its initial seizure to its presentation at trial, while the authorities concerned should establish a chain of custody as well. In addition, the court should take the responsibility of examining the integrity of the record of evidence handling, so as to reject the evidence that was compromised, ensure the integrity of the evidence, and thus guarantee the reliability of related forensic test results.
The Control Yuan will deliver this report to the Judicial Yuan, the Executive Yuan, and the authorities concerned.
Translated by Yunsheng Lin