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[Editorial] Stuck in the Past

Posted January. 20, 2006 04:53,   


The government and the ruling party intend to push forward legislation of a special law which gives the past history committee authority to apply for new trials for confirmed rulings in the past, and support the medical expenses of bereaved family of victims in mass killings of civilians before and after the Korean War.

This is a dangerous idea that will shake the national identity and spark controversy over violations of judicial power.

If the committee is allowed to apply for new trials, the scope of new trial causes, which has been limited, will be greatly expanded.

The government and the ruling Uri Party explain that this is not a violation of judicial power because the court has the right to allow new trials even if the committee applies for them. This runs the risk of violating judicial power, however, since applications for new trials by the committee are highly likely to pressure the court.

If the judicature changes confirmed rulings under the authoritarian regime according to requests from the committee, this will undermine the authority of the court and the stability of law. If this happens, it will be questioned if judicial power can be normally exercised with trust of the public.

Supporting the medical expenses and living expenses of the bereaved families of victims of killings of civilians can also shake the national identity and worsen ideological confrontations. If surviving families of the Communist Party members who were killed by the South Korean military, police or right-wingers receive medical and living support, should bereaved families of right-wingers who were killed by the Communist Party get assistance from the Kim Jong Il regime?

It is not normal for a government to dig up what happened some 50 years ago amid the confusion of war, renew old scars and incite ideological confrontation. There would be no other explanation but to say that the intension of creating such an excessive law comes from the leftist perspectives of those in the Roh Moo-hyun administration.

The government and the ruling party want the special law to cancel the statute of limitations for anti-human rights national crimes whose statute of limitations have not expired, without exception. There is no big problem regarding this. But there is little benefit, either. It is fair to say that there is actually no crime committed after June 1987 (when authoritarian rule ended) for which the government can cancel the statue of limitations. And the public is looking at a government that continues to run back to the past, while talking about “preparations for the future.”