[EDITORIALS]A problematic inquiry lawThe Uri Party drafted a “Basic Law for Truth Inquiry and Reconciliation,” which grants powerful authority to the historical inquiry commission. But criticism of the bill is being heard from the opposition party and the legal community, which are concerned about the way the commission will be composed, and about rules that suspend the statute of limitations.
According to the draft of the law, the commission would consist of 15 members, including a chief and five standing members. The problem is that the president would appoint all of the members. Of course, appointments would need to be ratified by the National Assembly, but it excludes the participation of the legislature and judiciary in naming members, unlike the situation with the Constitutional Court, the National Election Commission and the National Human Rights Commission. In addition, the National Assembly consists of a majority governing party and minor opposition parties. That’s why some are worried that the commission could be filled with all pro-governing party people.
It is against the law for the statute of limitations of defendants, accused or requested for investigation by the commision, to be suspended until the end of the investigation. The Criminal Procedure Code says that the statute of limitations is suspended when a case is prosecuted. The statute of limitations for criminal acts is made based on the consideration that even heinous criminals have human rights. If an exception is made only because the law is to inquire into the truth of history, it cannot avoid the criticism that the law violates the equality rights as the constitution says and the principle of the prevention of excessive punishment.
It is also a problem that the government would fine less than 20 million won or imprison less than two years a person who refused the investigators’ order to follow them to their office without proper reason. The basic law has only a uniform regulation without describing whether those who refused the order are the subjects of an investigation or witnesses. Isn’t it treating both as criminals?
Compared to other special laws, including the special law for the truth of suspicious deaths, that imposes less than 10 million won, the penalty is too high. The inquiry of history requires a long time and thorough neutrality. The Uri Party should amend the problematic clauses through sufficient discussion with the opposition.