The Convergence of Forces
Chapter 8: Global proliferation of lay participation in justice systems
Many countries around the globe have critically reviewed the merits of citizen involvement in government ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Seeking to obtain the benefits associated with a democratic form of government, eliminate corruption, and reduce deficiencies inherent in judicial systems, there has been a noticeable global movement to introduce contemporary versions of jury trials. In the last two decades, Asia has become the focus of this global trend. Debates and proposals have made headway in recent years in countries from Central and Eastern Europe to Central and South America, Southeast Asia and Africa. Japan’s decision to introduce its lay judge system took place within the context of this global trend. The country even revised its grand jury proceedings in 2009 to give the Kensatsu Shinsakai or Prosecution Review Commission (PRC) more power in reviewing and evaluating public prosecutors’ non-indictment decisions. In tracing the global trends toward lay adjudication over the past five centuries, there have been at least two movements favoring citizen involvement in the judicial process. First, some contend that the current wave of judicial reforms in Asia and other parts of the world resembles the wave of judicial reform triggered by the 1789 French Revolution. As a result of the French Revolution, political unrest and the movement toward democracy in Europe both strengthened the petit jury in England and helped the concept of trial by jury become an integral part of emerging democracies both on the European Continent and in the United States.
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