[EDITORIALS]Neutral and Independent ProsecutorThe newly appointed prosecutor general, Shin Seung-nam, is drawing much attention, probably because people have high expectations for him because his name has been mentioned for the post over the last two years.
The letter that the Korean Bar Association recently sent Mr. Shin, expressing hope "for the renewed prosecution that is independent from the political power," especially grabs our attention. The lawyers' association called for the prosecution to reflect on whether it has executed its rights fairly and justly, unswayed by outside political influences. The letter demanded that the new prosecutor general lead the prosecution to neutrality and fairness during his term, without catering to political power. The prosecution should take this seriously, not only because it is unusual for the bar association to send a letter to the head of the prosecution, but also because the letter contains significant points.
Disappointingly, Mr. Shin has not mentioned the political neutrality of the office or the independence of prosecutors since his appointment. In his inaugural address, he only acknowledged the execution of prosecutor's rights in accordance with legal principles, honesty and a humble mindset. He said he would protect the prosecution from intervention and obstructionism in its investigations in the form of protest visits or public announcements by civic groups and various interest organizations, but this remark is far from pledging independence.
The majority opinion is that the personnel reshuffle on May 3rd failed to meet public expectations. The shakeup showed no progress in overcoming the practice of putting regional and school ties before capability. It is not an overstatement to say that the current crisis facing the prosecution stemmed from the undermined independence of prosecution rights and the political neutrality of the prosecutor's office. These are the essential challenges the new prosecutor general must address. Though it would be a belated statement, Mr. Shin should declare the prosecutor's independence and the office's political neutrality and pledge to abide by this declaration.