The Justice Ministry hopes to introduce a bill that would allow courts to award compensation to victims or surviving relatives after convictions are handed down in criminal trials, ministry sources said Wednesday.
Separately, the ministry also wants people victimized in crimes to be able to question defendants in court.
The compensation proposal is intended to get redress to people victimized by crimes more quickly and to help those who might not have the time or money to pursue a civil lawsuit, the sources said.
The Legislative Council, which advises the justice minister, will examine the proposal in September.
The ministry already plans to introduce a bill next year to revise the Code of Criminal Procedure, the sources said.
The ministry plans to limit the crimes subject to compensation to murder, other willful criminal acts that result in death or injury, robbery, rape, kidnapping, confinement, and some types of child prostitution and pornography.
Fraud, embezzlement and other economic crimes are not being considered for inclusion, the sources said. Crime victim associations have said, however, that they want the scope widened.
The proposal is for judges to have the power to award damages to parties seeking compensation at the end of a criminal trial in which the accused has been found guilty.
The ministry separately plans to allow victims of crimes, including the next of kin of people who have been slain, to question defendants in court, the sources said.
Currently, if people want redress, they must file a civil lawsuit. However, many people have said the time and costs involved in preparing a case make it too difficult to go through a civil suit.
If the proposal for “incidental private action” is introduced, a criminal court judge would be able to use the evidence presented in the trial when deliberating compensation, a procedure that should sharply reduce the burden on the victimized, the sources said.
There would be no separate session to deal with compensation claims. If either party is dissatisfied with a compensation ruling, the next resort would be civil litigation to try to change the decision.
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