[EDITORIALS]Go slow on new crime unitThe plan to establish a new government unit that will investigate senior civil servants’ corruption is taking shape.
The Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption, under the president, will send its plans to President Roh Moo-hyun today and discuss the issue with the governing Uri Party.
According to the commission’s plan, the unit will investigate alleged corruption of above Grade One administration officials, prosecutors and judges at all levels and legislators. The plan, therefore, is a weapon against corruption aimed not only at the administration but also the judiciary and the legislature.
But the unit will not have the right to indict civil servants under suspicion of corruption. Instead, it may ask the prosecution to indict the persons it has investigated, and if prosecutors decide not to indict them, they will have to consult with an advisory board composed of lawyers before dropping the cases.
We believe more research is necessary before establishing such a powerful investigating unit. Its efficacy and its relations with other investigative bodies should have been considered. Also, it would be desirable if the discussion went in parallel with the plan to restructure the prosecution and the issue of whether to disband the Central Investigation Department at the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, since investigations will ultimately overlap with that of the prosecutors.
Placing the investigation unit under the presidential commission is a problem. That could mean that the president is given sway over all three branches of the government. Even if a mechanism to ensure neutrality is set up, there could be appearances of partiality. If the unit were given indictment rights, furthermore, it would become the highest power of the nation.
Eradicating corruption among civil servants is a task welcomed by all. But we do not believe civil servants’ corruption has happened just because there was no investigation body specializing in that issue.
The administration and the governing party should not force the plan just because it was a public pledge of Mr. Roh in the 2002 presidential campaign. A more thorough review is necessary to consider its negative effects.