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Election Violations to Face Tougher Punishment Next Year

Election Violations to Face Tougher Punishment Next Year

Posted December. 24, 2009 08:21,   


The Justice Ministry Wednesday said violators of election laws will face harsher punishment in a briefing on its major plans for next year at the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae.

President Lee Myung-bak said before the briefing that eliminating corruption by high-ranking officials is most important.

○ Crackdown on election law violators

As heated local elections are expected next year with 16 provincial heads, 16 education superintendents, and 733 council seats at stake, the ministry will focus on gathering information and enhancing its investigative capability to crack down on violators.

The three main election violators will be those who provide bribes and tell lies and public officials who intervene in elections. The ministry will mobilize high-tech investigative methods in its crackdown.

The Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office last month set up an assistance center for scientific investigation into public safety violations to track illegal funds, analyze accounts, trace IP addresses, and peruse digital evidence. A new analysis team for election law violations will classify such violations and enhance online monitoring.

Separately, tougher punishment will await those who take part in illegal strikes. The ministry wants to expand the length of prison sentences for violators of labor and collective action laws. The tougher punishment has been applied to nine district prosecutors’ offices on a trial basis, but will be expanded nationwide from February next year.

The crackdown will also target government workers who get involved in political protests. To prevent the amassing of illegal funds, the amount of cash transactions that must be reported to the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit will be lowered from 30 million won (25,300 U.S. dollars) to 20 million won (16,900 dollars).

○ Private prison opens

The country’s first privately run prison will open in the second half of next year in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province. The facility will accommodate 300 model prisoners serving three to five years and employ supervisors to prevent human rights abuses.

With the number of crimes committed by foreigners growing, a correctional institution for them will be established in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province.

Amid rising calls for longer prison sentences for sexual offenders against children, a proposed law revision could to raise the limit of prison sentences from 20 years to 30 years.

The statute of limitations for those who commit sexual crimes against children under 13 will also be extended until the victims reach age 20. To protect such victims, all prosecutors’ offices must have investigation rooms equipped with video cameras for children and women.

Psychotherapy and temporary shelters for such victims and their families will also be provided. Financial support for them will be raised from 30 million won (25,300 dollars) to 50 million won (42,200 dollars).

The period of handling drunk or unlicensed drivers will be shortened from 120 days to 15 days by computerizing the processing of criminal cases.

○ Prison sentence law

The Justice Ministry will seek to enact a law on prison sentence standards in consultation with the Supreme Court and the National Assembly to establish a predictable justice system.

The ministry intends to institutionalize the prison sentence system, which has been at the disposal of the court. Conflict is expected, however, with a prison sentence committee under the Supreme Court because the latter is also considering new sentencing standards.

Also to be introduced is the right to appeal an arrest warrant; lowering a prison term if a suspect testifies against others; compulsory summoning of a witness; and charging a witness who lies in court with obstruction of justice.

The ministry is also considering setting up investigation deliberation committees at all prosecutors’ offices nationwide to review the legitimacy of arrest warrants.