[EDITORIALS]Balancing investigation power

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[EDITORIALS]Balancing investigation power

Monday’s public forum proved that the police and prosecution are at odds over whether the police should be granted independent investigation rights. The forum was full of conflict, but it also provided hope of some constructive alternatives.
The key issue here is whether to amend the current criminal procedure laws which specify that prosecutors take charge of investigations and direct police officers during such.
Police are arguing for independent investigative powers, saying the change would increase the effectiveness of investigations.
But prosecutors claim that investigations should not be divided between police and prosecutors. Prosecutors say they need to direct police officers to guarantee that the human rights of criminal suspects are respected while under police investigation.
Prosecutors and police formed a joint body to handle the issue last September. They also formed an advisory committee which civilian members joined last December. Through such efforts, the two organizations agreed on 19 measures, including limiting prosecutors’ direction of police investigations only to important criminal cases, and giving the police the right to wrap up investigations involving minor crimes.
But now the agreement is on the verge of collapse. The prosecution says the agreement was made on the condition that current criminal procedure laws remain intact. If the police continue to argue for an amendment, prosecutors say they may choose to cancel the agreement.
The issue should be resolved so that the human rights of suspects can be protected and public benefits can be increased. The control and freedom of investigations needs to be harmonized here.
It is desirable for both the prosecution and police to emphasize that investigations guarantee human rights. The new prosecutor-general, for example, said he would expand investigations of suspects without detention, and the police said they would ban officers from interrogating suspects all night.
We ask the police and prosecution to find a solution that would expand the investigative powers of the police while acknowledging the role of prosecutors in directing investigations.
If they fail to reach a final agreement, then they should start on the steps they have agreed upon and increase police freedom step by step.
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