[EDITORIALS]Panic among prosecutorsA collective action by public prosecutors against a proposed reshuffle of senior posts is making ripple effects in our society. After the list of four senior prosecutors who are to be promoted as heads of provincial offices was disclosed, rank-and-file prosecutors demanded that the decision be reconsidered, claiming that the appointments would destroy existing order among prosecutors. As Justice Minister Kang Gum-sil refused to bend her personnel policy, confrontation between the two appears imminent.
The Blue House has taken a stern attitude against the prosecutors, threatening to consider their collective action as a revolt en masse deserving of punishment. It was anticipated as soon as Ms. Kang was appointed that she would ignore existing customs among prosecutors. Considering people’s distrust in the prosecution, the prosecutors brought this on themselves. In these first prosecutorial appointments under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, we can read the government’s will to reform the prosecution.
Ms. Kang’s appointments are designed to transcend and destroy the existing order. We can see her strong will to upset existing personnel policy. There is a logical connection with the appointment of Chung Sang-myoung as vice justice minister over the heads of his seniors. Singling out someone for promotion to a higher position is a shock. But prosecutors should know that the public welcomes such a change.
Promoting a few selected persons has been used in the past to tame the prosecutors and put them under the influence of politicians. To secure a good response for the new personnel policy, those appointed should be highly qualified; otherwise, the policy will be criticized as another attempt to tame prosecutors. The new personnel policy’s connection with reform should also be explained. The charge that Ms. Kang has consulted with outside groups instead of the prosecutor general on the reshuffle should be heeded, too.
The essence of prosecutorial independence is independence from political power. The personnel policy of the prosecution should be focused on this point. The scene of senior prosecutors clinging to their seats and chasing their juniors out is far from reform.