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Ministry of Justice Pursues Legislating Penalty Assessment Standards

Ministry of Justice Pursues Legislating Penalty Assessment Standards

Posted September. 13, 2005 07:33,   


Minister of Justice Chun Jung-bae announced on September 12 that “Penalty Assessment Standards” – sentencing in a criminal trial according to a penalty assessment standard depending on the specific crime of the defendant - will be legislated.

The prosecution prepared the draft of the penalty assessment standard over various times and demanded the legislation of the law, but it is the first time for the Ministry of Justice to announce its plans to legislate directly the law.

If the penalty assessment standard is legislated, it is predicted that the “elastic penalties” sentenced on similar crimes, depending on the judge, will vanish. In addition, sympathetic rulings for famous corruption trials will also greatly be reduced, thereby decreasing controversy over the “rich are innocent and poor are guilty.”

However, considering that a judge has many factors to consider in setting a penalty, it will not be easy to incorporate those standards into a law, and if the penalty assessment standard is mechanically used, it will overly reduce the discretion of the judge, hence possibly raising the objection of the court.

At the minister-level meeting of the Presidential Committee on Judicial Reform (PCJR) held on September 12, Minister Chun said, “The core of judicial reform is solving the problem of the rich paying their way out of jail and eliminating judicial mistrust. Hence, it is important to acquire the transparency and predictability of criminal judicial law by making the standards for penalty assessment objective.”

In response, PCJR Planning Pursuit Team Chief Kim Seon-soo said, “I will endeavor by referring to the words of the minister of justice.”

A Ministry of Justice official commented, “I believe that the PCJR will push ahead with the legislation of the penalty assessment standard law. If not, the Ministry of Justice has its own authority to submit a bill, so it is the staunch determination of Minister Chun to have the ministry go ahead independently for the legislation of the law.

Soo-Hyung Lee sooh@donga.com jin0619@donga.com