Go to contents

Are Police Trying to Secure Independent Investigation Right or to Improve Unfair Practices?

Are Police Trying to Secure Independent Investigation Right or to Improve Unfair Practices?

Posted September. 30, 2003 22:58,   


Are the police trying to have an independent investigation right or to correct unfair practices?

The nation`s police are recently eliminating some unfair practices that have been in place for a long time.

The National Police Agency (NPA) has recently ordered police officers sent to the Prosecution to return, except for 10 of them working at the joint investigation team of public fund. Moreover, it decided to send police officers to other agencies only when there is a joint investigation or legal authority.

Along with this, when suspects are handed over from the police to other institutions, the latter will have to take measures for care and custody of them. At the present, the police are responsible for care and custody of suspects and prisoners who leave the jail due to the treatment in the hospital or suspension of detention.

“Four detectives are needed to keep an eye on one suspect or prisoner around the clock,” said an NPA official.

The NPA also asked the Supreme Public Prosecutor`s Office (SPPO) to abolish the system in which a police officer has to get an approval from a prosecutor when he needs to meet a prisoner for the investigative purpose. The SPPO gave a nod to it, allowing the police to freely meet and interrogate prisoners from Oct.1.

The police had to get permission from prosecutors for 12,852 cases in 2002 and 9,092 cases as of August this year, leading to prolonged investigations.

“So far, prosecutors have never rejected the applications for meetings with prisoners. The system is unnecessary and the police have been continuously complaining about it,” said a police officer.

Even when the Prosecution arrests a wanted suspect, the police have to take him to the prosecutors` offices. The police claim that, unlike other judicial institutions, only suspects wanted by prosecutors are taken by police officers.

This issue, however, seems to have a rough going since the police and the prosecutors show different views on whether the police escort is part of investigation command.

“There are two or three more unfair practices that need to be corrected,” said a senior official of the NPA. “We are going to pave the way for the independence of the investigation right through transparent investigations and measures to protect human rights,” he added.

“Over the past few years, the police confidence has remarkably grown,” he said. “We will actively express our opinions even when we are under the command of prosecutors.”

The police, however, said that such measures should not be seen as confrontation between the two authorities. “What we want is we take a full responsibility of our work,” another high-ranking police official. “There is no need for overreaction.”

“National agencies are obliged to work together according to the law,” said a prosecution official in response. “We are discussing issues with the police,” he added.

Heon-Jin Lee mungchii@donga.com