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Presidential Committee for Judicial Reform to Consider a Sentencing Standard Bill

Presidential Committee for Judicial Reform to Consider a Sentencing Standard Bill

Posted September. 14, 2005 07:46,   


The Justice Ministry, courts, and legal professionals not holding government office are opposed to one another over the legislation of a sentencing standard law which will give a verdict according to the specific sentencing standards based on the type of crime.

On September 13, the Justice Ministry and the prosecution repeated their stance to introduce a law on sentencing standard after Justice Minister Chun Jeong-bae declared a decision of legislating such law in the ministerial-level plenary session of the Presidential Committee for Judicial Reform on September 12.

However, the court and legal professionals not holding government office expressed opposition to the legislation, while acknowledging the need for a certain standard of sentencing.

Han Myung-gwan, public relations officer of the Justice Ministry, said in a press conference that day, “It looks better that the presidential committee draws up the bill. But the Justice Ministry, which has the right to submit a bill, will act on legislation independently, if the committee is passive or negative of it.”

An official at the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office also argued, “A law on sentencing standard is absolutely necessary to protect the people’s privilege of equity and to realize the proper right of punishment by revising the existing sentencing system in which individual judges exercise almost unlimited authority.”

The Supreme Court and the Office of Court Administration (OCA) did not express their official opinions on this issue, but they are known as having a strong opposition from within.

A major judge at the OCA said, “Fixing a uniform sentencing standard for specific cases could bring about an unjust outcome because that could rule out leniency or harsh punishment based on the situation of the accused.”

The Korean Federal Bar Association also said, “That shows the extreme case of ‘worship of the law’ that attempts to limit by law even the ruling of judges,” adding, “It is true that inequity of sentencing among politicians, business leaders, and the public is a cause for mistrust in justice. But it is improper to limit sentencing uniformly by legislation.”

Meanwhile, an official of the presidential committee said, “We are planning to discuss after drawing up proposals on the sentencing standard.” But the official also said, “There is no country that puts a sentencing standard law in place, except for the U.S. and the U.K.,” adding, “It is unreasonable that the Justice Ministry pushes forward the legislation independently.”

Jin-Kyun Kil jin0619@donga.com leon@donga.com