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[Opinion] Restriction of Privilege of Assembly Immunity Is Deceptive to People

[Opinion] Restriction of Privilege of Assembly Immunity Is Deceptive to People

Posted October. 24, 2001 08:48,   


Article 45 in our constitution states that an Assemblyperson is not responsible for the remark or vote made in the Assembly. This is the definition of the privilege of Assembly immunity stated in the constitution.

The privilege of Assembly immunity is inscribed in various countries` constitutions since the rules of rights have secured the freedom of discussion within the Assembly. The rules of rights were presented to William III by the Britain`s Parliament 300 years ago to protect Assemblypersons, who represented people, from the power of king or dictatorship. It is the privilege bestowed by the constitution as a way to realize the principle of checks and balances, that is, a control apparatus of the Assembly to the government based on the principle of separation of legislative, administrative, and judicial authority.

Therefore, as long as their activities are recognized as lawful, Assemblypersons are not punished due to this privilege even if they infringed the personal value or honor. However, according to article 146 of the Assembly Law, Assemblypersons cannot defame or remark on other people`s personal life. When this is violated, the Assembly can reprimand by the decision of the Assembly according to article 155 of the Assembly Law.

Public hearings used to be held regarding the legal interpretations on the privilege of Assembly immunity, and there were many debates over the range and limit of the privilege. The prosecution also seemed to have struggled with the legal principles of the immunity privilege. There was a case in which the prosecution ruled that `there was no authority to indict` the accused Assemblyperson, who was charged for the defamation, by acknowledging the immunity privilege of the indicted Assemblyperson, although the prosecution had to launch the investigation pushed by the political power.

There is only one judicial precedent by the Supreme Court in 1992, which ruled that the case of ``pre-distribution of the manuscript to the reporters, which is to be read in the Assembly, is subject to the immunity privilege.`` Based on this precedent, the court seems to interpret the immunity privilege within a relatively wide range. In the statement of decision, the court stated in detail, ``The immunity privilege include not only statements and votes made in the Assembly but also related activities inseparable from the former.``

Of course, there are inherent limits in the exercise of every rights and privileges. Assemblypersons, as the representatives of people, should perform their task according to their conscience, and should not abuse their privileges, even if the constitution does not specify a proviso of the immunity privilege as in the case of Germany.

However, it is not appropriate in terms of time and occasion for the ruling party to mention the restriction on the privilege of Assembly immunity, which is secured by the constitution, in an attempt to prevent the opposition party`s irresponsible political offense or violation of personality, such as disclosure, spread of false information, and remarks intentionally done for defamation. Undesirable activities or low quality behavior of the Assemblypersons have existed for long, and these are not limited to a particular party. Sudden attempt to restrict privilege of Assembly immunity is neither an appropriate measure, which misses the essence of the problem, nor a right and fair counter-measure against political offense. Moreover, it is to violate the spirit of the constitution.

The ruling party`s attitude can be viewed as a shrewd legal strategy. Moreover, it was not wise for the General Prosecutor, to whom political neutrality is most required, to mention the inherent limits of the immunity privilege.

The recent dispute over the restriction on the privilege of Assembly immunity confuses the order of the things. As long as deception, trickery, unfairness and corruption are prevalent in the political circle, an attempt to restrict the immunity privilege, which was even kept during the past dictatorship, is another deception of the political circle to the people.

It is desirable to solve the political issues politically. Responsibility and control of a particular Assemblyperson`s remark or quality should be discussed within the Assembly according to the Assembly Law.

People have their own scales of minds. A subtle and refined political technique called principle of checks and balances, which manipulates people`s mind, will exist forever as long as the sovereignty of people exists. Even if another political technique or legal system, which obstructs this principle, is invented, it will be difficult to have people`s support. Rather, it is likely that it will be greatly resisted by people.