Posted June. 21, 2005 07:43,
Police have long been struggling against the public prosecutors office to obtain autonomy in criminal investigations. Candidates running in past presidential elections often promised police autonomy as a public pledge, considering the voting power of the 150,000 police. President Roh Moo-hyun also expressed his hope for the peaceful settlement of this dispute by saying he would, if necessary, intervene in their talks. However, given the current wide gap between two parts, it is still up in the air when this hope will be achieved.
In fact, the amendment of the Criminal Procedure Act and the Organization of Government Act is indispensable for this settlement. Therefore, the fate of such prolonged struggle will be determined at the National Assembly. Lawmakers are now busy receiving calls and meeting people from the police and the public prosecutors office.
A report that the prosecutors office distributed to lawmakers indicates that the police were used as a tool for oppression of the Korean people during Japanese colonial rule, and even after the nations liberation in 1945 colonial police forces were rehired by the newly established Korean government. However, the prosecutors office and judicial officers also belonged to Japanese governors office at that time. In addition, there is little difference from the police in that the majority of officials didnt leave office after the 1945 liberation. The prosecutors office, rather than making a row over the past history, should calmly admit its arrogance and dogmatic attitude that it has enjoyed so far.
The police are lobbying politicians by using its local police stations. This is their specialty. For example, they are organizing special lectures of lawmakers who were elected in districts the police stations are in charge of, and executive officers of the police are also busy now visiting lawmakers. The police complained that we have to do everything the prosecutors office orders. Under such circumstances, how could we say that the police are a strong body that protects human rights? Indeed, however, many people worry about what happens after the police are allowed to have full autonomy in criminal investigations. The police have to ask themselves if the morality and professionalism the police have is better than that of the prosecutors office.
Kim Il-soo, a professor of Korea University and a member of the advisory committee for meditation of disputes over the polices autonomy in investigations from the prosecutors office, said, We have almost agreed that the autonomy of the police only extends to investigations on the violation of the Road Traffic Act and other peoples livelihood-related offenses such as thievery. But they have suddenly come back to the initial stage again. Regardless of which agency leads the investigation process, the way should be set in accordance with socio-cultural backgrounds society maintains. If they carry out investigations fairly and promptly, it doesnt matter who carries out investigation. Condemning each other by saying, puppet police and fascist prosecution is nothing but self-defamation.
Hwang Ho-taek, Editorial writer, email@example.com