[EDITORIALS]Travel Bans Must Not Be Abused

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[EDITORIALS]Travel Bans Must Not Be Abused

The Financial Supervisory Service is planning to introduce new regulations which would enpower law enforcement authorities to prohibit suspects in financial crimes, executives and employees, shareholders and guarantors of financial institutions and insolvent companies under investigation from leaving the country beginning at the stage of preliminary investigations - even before they are formally charged. There are some existing regulations pertaining to travel bans, but the agency wants to close loopholes in the rules.

We understand the intention of the Financial Supervisory Service. Our economy has suffered enormous damage due to the increasing number of large-scale financial crimes. Suspects have escaped overseas immediately after the launching of preliminary investigations, causing great difficulties in investigations.

But prohibiting persons from leaving the country during preliminary investigations is a measure that serves only the enforcement agency, clearly ignoring human rights. It is a fundamental spirit of the law to minimize actions which deprive the people of their freedom and basic rights. Prohibiting people from leaving the country will interfere, perhaps fatally, with the business of companies under investigation. Therefore, such orders should never be overused or abused. Many businessmen who were once the subject of rumors related to financial crimes and under preliminary investigations for a long time were finally released without any charges being filed. Furthermore, many of the loopholes the service points out can be closed by speedy investigations, information exchange and cooperation between government agencies. The government should not let financial criminals flee overseas, but the priority is protecting the basic rights of the people and free business activities.

Government organs are fighting turf battles to investigate wrongdoing and limit business activities. The Fair Trade Commission recently got new authority to trace bank account records, and the Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation was granted the right to investigate insolvent companies. Now, the Financial Supervisory Service is trying to introduce eased rules for issuing travel ban orders. Considering that power is a narcotic, such moves are inherently dangerous. Recent government actions hint at the danger that the government may abuse its powers. We urge the government to exercise restraint.
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