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[Editorial] Is Song Kwang-soo Right for Prosecution Reform?

[Editorial] Is Song Kwang-soo Right for Prosecution Reform?

Posted March. 11, 2003 22:28,   


Prosecutor-general designate Song Kwang-soo should go through a confirmation hearing, though there will be no votes on the matter. Therefore, if a fatal flaw is uncovered, his appointment to the prosecutor-general post could be scuttled. All eyes are on the first confirmation hearing for the prosecutor-general post, a test of how he has worked in investigations and the prosecution since starting his career. It will be very difficult for him to go through the gauntlet.

Challenges facing the new prosecutor-general are to regain public trust in the prosecution and to calm the disorder caused by the recent and unprecedented internal reshuffle. There could be divided interpretations for the ulterior motive behind the reshuffle in which a number of young prosecutors were promoted ahead of their seniors. However, in some way, the prosecution itself was the cause for reform due to outside forces; as it has often been embroiled in controversy over the fairness of its investigations and has turned the public against it. In order to secure the prosecution’s independence and autonomy, steadfast conviction and high ethical standards are required of the incoming prosecutor-general.

Considering progress made in Korea’s democracy, it is time that the government not wield such power, nor be dependent on such organs as the prosecution, police and national intelligence agency. Though President Roh Moo-hyun and Justice Minister Kang Kum-sil are repeating their pledges not to interfere with the prosecution’s investigations, the prosecution cannot achieve political neutrality and fairness in probes without its own determination to do so.

Prosecutors whose job it is to remove the ugly parts of society should have a higher ethical sense than any other. Since the development of Korea’s democracy, the prosecution’s power has grown. But that there is no organ to inspect the prosecution shows exactly why this is necessary. The so-called ‘Fur Gate’ and scandals in which prosecutor-general’s brothers took bribes are prime examples. The new prosecutor-general should be able to eradicate irregularities in the process of investigations and enhance the ethics of prosecutors to the fullest extent of the law.

Most of all, the new chief prosecutor should have a clear sense of human rights. An investigative institution claiming the highest authority in the land should not engage in national crimes such as torture. There should be a thorough verification process at the confirmation hearing to decide whether he can complete his term of office without fail.