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[Opinion] “Fascist Prosecution”; “Puppet Police”

Posted June. 21, 2005 07:43,   


Police have long been struggling against the public prosecutor’s 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 prosecutor’s office.

A report that the prosecutor’s 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 nation’s liberation in 1945 colonial police forces were rehired by the newly established Korean government.” However, the prosecutor’s office and judicial officers also belonged to Japanese governor’s office at that time. In addition, there is little difference from the police in that the majority of officials didn’t leave office after the 1945 liberation. The prosecutor’s 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 prosecutor’s 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 prosecutor’s office.

Kim Il-soo, a professor of Korea University and a member of the advisory committee for meditation of disputes over the police’s autonomy in investigations from the prosecutor’s 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 people’s 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 doesn’t 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, hthwang@donga.com