[EDITORIALS]Reforming the prosecutionThe televised dialogue between President Roh Moo-hyun and young prosecutors was heated from start to finish, but only confirmed their disagreements. The prosecutors asked for a new consultative body for prosecutor assignments before any personnel movements are made. Mr. Roh said he would consider it for the next round of personnel changes. The young prosecutors demanded that the justice minister’s right to propose prosecutor transfers to the president be given to the prosecutor-general. Mr. Roh was firmly opposed. They agreed only that, in general, the prosecution ought to be reformed.
Mr. Roh said he has not had time to set up a new personnel council. It is of no use to rely on the existing council, he said, because it consists of the current leadership that must be reformed. If he were to set up a new council, it would take time and delay the reform. As the prosecutors showed no sign of compromise, Mr. Roh raised his voice emphasizing the president’s inalienable right to transfer prosecutors and the inappropriateness of a “battle of egos.”
But as much as the administration emphasized reform, it would be more legitimate to set up the new council first and let it review the first personnel transfers. Delaying the reform can be justified for the sake of principles. If he wants to criticize past transfers of prosecutors as the products of back-room deals, Mr. Roh should start correctly, rather than asking prosecutors to wink at his decision just this once.
We cannot agree with Justice Minster Kang Gum-sil that she needs the right to propose prosecutor transfers in order to check the prosecution’s investigation right. The prosecution has been criticized for desperate pandering to the powerful, including the Justice Ministry, not for its excessively strong investigation right. Does she plan to exert her influence over prosecution investigations by keeping the right to transfer prosecutors?
It became apparent that neither young prosecutors nor Mr. Roh trusts the current prosecution leadership. Reform requires the current leadership to resign as soon as possible. And the new council should be formed with new prosecution leadership. It is the right way to start reforming the prosecution.