[EDITORIALS]Bar association censure

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[EDITORIALS]Bar association censure

The Seoul Bar Association issued a statement expressing its opposition to a move in the governing camp to enact a special law to allow the contents of tapes made illegally by the National Security Planning Agency to be revealed.
The association also called for the investigation of Roh Hoe-chan, a Democratic Labor Party lawmaker, who exposed the names of prosecutors mentioned in the tape, and the Chosun Ilbo, which reported on it. The bar association demanded the prosecution also launch an investigation of the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, which disobeyed a court order to suspend its broadcast of a news program on the illegally made tape.
In the meantime, controversy continued over the governing party’s plan to enact the special law and Mr. Roh’s exposure of the tape’s contents, because the Protection of Communications Secrets Act stipulates that the act of revealing the contents of communications or conversations gained through illegal means should be punished. It is meaningful that the association made public its opinion on the issue. It is the largest among regional bar associations, with 4,700 members ― some 67 percent of 7,000 practicing lawyers nationwide. For that reason, the association’s opinion is far weightier than that of a handful of lawyers.
In the statement, the bar association expressed deep concern over a move that goes against the democratic and legal norms of our society. As the association pointed out, implementing basic constitutional ideals through existing law without oppressing the minority with the power of the majority defines a democratic country and one ruled by the law. Nevertheless, there has been an attempt to invalidate the law on freedom of communications using political logic. Whether it be a special law or a bill for introduction of an independent counsel, their sponsors shouldn’t ignore the unconstitutionality of exposing the contents of illegal recordings. We worry that Korea will be degraded to an uncivilized country where people enjoy peeping into the private lives of others.
The association has decided Mr. Roh’s exposure violated the law. Making public the names of seven prosecutors via his Internet homepage can’t be protected under the immunity of a lawmaker. Illegal activities should be rooted out, but people’s basic human rights should not be violated under the pretext of digging for the truth.
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