[EDITORIALS]An unbiased panel is neededThe Uri Party has come up with a final bill on the investigation into suspicious events in the past. Moving away from the hardline stance of civic groups and certain factions of the governing party, the new bill looks to be a moderate one.
In the draft stages, there were provisions that were said to create legal confusion, such as “imposing a prison term if one refuses to accompany the authorities,” “halting the statute of limitations on prosecution from the point when legal proceedings begin,” and “demanding financial data.” They are excluded. Also, the bill would create an independent commission within the National Assembly, which would not be part of either the legislative, executive or judicial branches of government.
But there are some problems with the bill. Because the bill states that the president would designate all members of this commission, the controversy over political neutrality will not be easily overlooked. Even though the members must receive the endorsement of the National Assembly, the governing party holds the majority of the seats, and thus this precondition is useless. In truth, those persons who the governing party feels are in tune with the Roh administration can become part of the commission. The vague provision that members must have “abundant knowledge and experience about truth-finding and reconciliation” only adds to the suspicion. Considering that even the Human Rights Commission is not free from political controversy, it must be made thoroughly free from politics.
The scope of investigation is also prone to controversy. First of all, according to this new bill, the scope encompasses the “resistance movement against Japanese colonialization that was previously distorted or hidden by the colonial ruling power and authoritarian rule.” It makes one suspect that this focuses on the leftist groups’ independence movement. If the commission tilts towards this area, there will be a question of bias. Also, if the commission looks at cases such as the abduction of Kim Dae-jung in the 1970s and the 1987 Korean Air explosion, both of which have already gone through extensive investigations, then it is just wasting public money.
Before confirming the bill, the governing party must supplant these problems. If it goes ahead with this bill by force, there is no guarantee that another historic reinterpretation effort will not take place under the next administration.