[LETTERS]Human rights trump desire to see suspected criminal’s face

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[LETTERS]Human rights trump desire to see suspected criminal’s face


There is heated debate today about the press publicly revealing a crime suspect’s identity.

The media has said that such a disclosure is in the public interest and is welcomed by many people. In some sense, it may be true that revealing a suspected killer’s identity can prevent other crimes.

In emphasizing public anger, however, the mass media is overlooking the privacy rights of the suspect and his family. This, in particular, is the problem with the media’s insufficient reasoning - and innocent individuals suffer as a consequence.

Admittedly, it is undeniable that some crimes are heinous and cruel.

It is understandable that there is public outrage about those atrocities. There is no arguing that victim’s families must deal with unimaginable anger and sorrow.

It is tempting to say that it is not necessary to respect the cruel killer’s human rights and making known a presumed killer’s face may play a positive role in preventing similar crimes from happening.

Nevertheless, it does not mean that “an eye for an eye” should be encouraged. Public sentiment does not always give rise to justifiable measures.

A suspect has the right to have his identity protected until found guilty. On this very point, the press transgressed the law.

In addition, the reasoning that it can prevent other crimes cannot be proven.

The rationale of serving the interests of the public might be persuasive if revealing the identity would deter acts like sexual harassment. In this case, however, could anyone actually verify that such a disclosure prevents other crimes? Without serious consideration, is it really indispensable for the public good?

What this implies is that such action by the press is irresponsible.

Moreover, with respect to a suspect’s family, the transgression is more serious. As we know, our country is small and people are well equipped to search out suspects’ families, friends and neighbors, who would undoubtedly be exposed before long. Their identities and pictures can be easily spread over media outlets, particularly the Internet. Their reputation will be impugned. They may also become targets for revenge and may be put in harm’s way, physically and psychologically. Think about the suspect’s children; how can they live in this situation? This demonstrates that such disclosures are careless acts and serious human rights violations.

In sum, the disclosure of a suspect’s identity is outweighed by human rights and is not justified. For the reasons outlined above, I cannot agree with the opinion supporting disclosure of a crime suspect’s identity.

One could hardly conclude that such a disclosure would serve the public’s welfare rather than simply serving the commercial interests of the media. Song Jae-yong, an ethicist
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