With the enforcement of the prosecution reform bill, which is designed to strip away the prosecution’s investigative powers only a month ahead, the Ministry of Justice will push for a new legislation redefining the existing crimes related to public officials and election practices as “corruption crimes”, giving the prosecution the authority to investigate them directly.
The Ministry of Justice said Thursday that it will make a pre-announcement of this new revised bill called ‘the regulation on the scope of crimes subjected to the prosecution’s investigation (presidential decree)’ from August 12 to 29. The gist of the revision is to add flexibility of the construal of the scope of direct investigation stipulated in the prosecution reform bill, which will be enforced on September 10.
Misfeasance, which was categorized as public official crimes, will be reclassified as corruption crime, following the precedents from the Act of the Anti-corruption & Civil Rights Commission and the United Nations Convention against Corruption. The justice ministry also interpreted libel, perjury and other crimes disrupting judicial order as ‘major crimes’, citing the Prosecution’s Office Act as it puts major crimes proclaimed by executive order including corruption and economic crimes under the scope of direct investigation.
“Considering the purpose of legislation, the revision was made within the necessary minimum range,” Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon said in a Thursday briefing. “Our aim is to strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to major crimes and minimize the violation of human rights for the people involved in crimes.
The opposition party lashed out, arguing the bill will neuter the reform bill. Head of Emergency Steering Committee Woo Sang-ho told reporters that the National Assembly will not sit on its hands if the justice ministry takes advantage of the presidential decree as a bypass to neutralize a bill passed in the parliament.