[EDITORIALS]The 'right' to investigateMud-slinging between the prosecution and the police over independent police investigations intensifies. While the police flock to the banner, "Fight for the investigation right," the prosecutors employ tricks to hold on to that right. Neither side says why the investigation right should belong to it, preferring to find fault with the other side.
Securing investigative independence has been a long-harbored wish of the police. They raise the issue whenever opportunity presents, as in power transitions or when the prosecution is weakened. So far they have been unsuccessful, but this time the debate is more active because independence of police investigation was included in Roh Moo-hyun's election pledges.
To which agency the right should go must be decided by the people. It is important to find out which of the two would better protect the human rights of ordinary people. The right should go to the one that will enforce the law fairly and investigate without bias.
It is not right that the police demand the right as a matter of bargaining. They started by demanding investigation rights in all cases and the right to request warrants, but they have changed their tactics and now demand priority in minor cases only. If they want the investigation right, the police should first restore people's confidence. For that, they should deal with controversies over misconduct, corruption and underqualification in their ranks.
The prosecution should respond to the police demand with a forward-looking attitude. Already the volume of investigation cases overflows its capacity. And decentralization of power is an unavoidable trend of the times. It should be willing to discuss with the police the timing and procedures that would minimize the side effects of decentralization. Investigating alleged corruption among high-ranking police officers and demanding closure of the national police university will only bring police reaction and public distrust. An all-out struggle between prosecutors and police will benefit no one.