[EDITORIALS]Reform of the prosecutionThe Supreme Public Prosecutors Office has announced a reform plan that it prepared after junior prosecutors collected a wide range of opinion inside and outside the prosecution. Included are measures for a fairer personnel policy such as the establishment of an advisory group for investigations in which private citizens can take part and the strengthening of a personnel council’s role in the appointment of prosecutors. Also included in the plan are the introduction of independent, time-limited counsels and stricter limits on the justice minister’s ability to intervene in investigations.
The significance of the plan lies in that the rank-and-file prosecutors agreed on the need for reform and worked out a plan. Reform of the prosecution has been on the national agenda a few times in the past, but this is the first time that the prosecutors themselves have led the move. Prosecutors who were the objects of reform have changed their position to become the promoters of reform in accordance with the demand for social change. Still, the plan seems to have limits. It does not reflect the seriousness of the gap in perceptions between the public and the prosecutors.
The acceptance of independent counsels is a step forward. It is a voluntary change of attitude from the prosecution’s earlier position of vehemently objecting to such a system. Ultimately, prosecutors should put their efforts into illuminating the reasons why introducing independent counsels is not necessary. It should investigate all political issues thoroughly.
Neither should the prosecution raise objections to dispatching prosecutors to an independent counsel’s office even though there are problems with such a system. We are paying close attention to the plan to improve personnel policy by establishing a council in which outside participation will be increased and some prosecutors also serve. Reflecting on the past practices of outside influence on the appointment of prosecutors from politicians and because of regional, school and family relationships, transparency in personnel policy is essential for reform.
What is most needed is the will for reform. Senior prosecutors have long resisted restructuring. For ultimate reform, moving out those opposed to reform is urgent. “Political prosecutors” who were subservient to politicians to feather their own nests should leave the office. Here, the political will to reform the prosecution is important. That political will must be demonstrated by the occupant of the Blue House in the first instance.