Go to contents

[Editorial] Prosecution Should Reform Itself as Prosecution Cherishing Civil Rights

[Editorial] Prosecution Should Reform Itself as Prosecution Cherishing Civil Rights

Posted November. 05, 2002 22:59,   


The prosecution has to watch its reputation being smeared and ruined due to the sudden death of a suspect, who was in the custody of the Seoul Prosecutors` Office. Justice Minister and Attorney General resigned hand in hand. In addition, the chief prosecutor who investigated the suspect is about to be arrested and indicted. All of these are more than the prosecution can stand up with. Unless the prosecution learns a lesson from this debacle and reform itself thereupon, however, it will encounter the smear and shame again and again down the road.

It is true that the death is something that we as a whole wish would not have occurred. Nonetheless, it is not desirable, either, to shake the whole prosecution out of its dignity. It is not good for the whole country itself. In this context, what former Attorney General Lee Myung-jae said on Monday night tells a lot to us. He said, "At this very moment, most of the prosecutors are working with their rooms lit up, fighting crimes for the whole society." That`s is why the prosecution exists.

Now the prosecutors have to fight the enemy inside their organization: disrespect for and violation of human rights. It is important to prosecute 100 criminals. However, no less important is the effort not to prosecute or victimize an innocent person. They have to understand that now. It may feel tougher to fight the enemies in themselves. But that is the only way they can possibly regain their reputation and respect from the citizens.

The road is not that long, tough. They just have to stick to the basic principle of "due process," for which many people have fought and died over a long period of time. Fruits of illegality will necessarily be illegality. Thus, if a means of enforcing law is illegal, the law and the prosecution no longer convey any meaning in their existence.

First of all, each prosecutor should wake themselves up and remind them of the importance of civil rights in themselves. That is the first step to eliminate any habitat for the illegal law enforcement tactics such as torturing suspects to obtain their statements. Unless each and every prosecutor looks at the prosecution and thinks of the human rights in such a way that an ordinary individual looks at them, the improvement of the prosecution is not to be expected.

In addition, they have to immediately root out the investigation practices that have high risk of violating civil rights. They should let suspects get the assistance of their counsels during interrogation. They should stop interrogating them all through the night, which itself is a torture, or interrogating them in a closed room. Moreover, the prosecutors should focus their investigations on collecting evidence, rather than on getting statements. If a statement is obtained and the statement is not voluntarily made, it should not be accepted as an exhibit for trial. If the prosecution fails to reform itself this time, it may face a critical crisis in the future.