Legal experts talk about boosting public’s role

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Legal experts talk about boosting public’s role

Nearly 250 legal officials and experts from Korea and 30 Asian nations on Wednesday gathered in Seoul to share knowledge and discuss how to increase public participation in the legal process.

The Asian Legislative Experts Symposium, hosted by the Ministry of Government Legislation, brought together legal veterans at the Millennium Seoul Hilton for the annual event, which has been held since 2013. It is aimed at sharing legal expertise and stories of legal development among legal officials from across Asia.

About 80 foreign officials and experts in the field attended the symposium.

This year’s theme for the conference was “Measures for Legislation Improvement of Administrative Procedures to Expand Social Participation and Communications.”

Kim Oe-sook, Korea’s minister of government legislation, said in her opening remarks that the annual event has “served as a venue to improve understanding of each country’s laws and systems and to discuss legislative solutions to various issues we care about.”

Touching on this year’s theme, which centers on encouraging public participation in administrative procedure, Kim cited a public deliberative panel Korea formed last year to determine the fate of two nuclear reactors as an example of public participation. She said the process “reflected the will of the people.”

Instead of unilaterally deciding to scrap the construction of the two nuclear reactors like President Moon Jae-in promised to during his campaign, the government formed a public panel of over 400 citizens and let them decide after months of deliberation. The panel recommended that construction resume, and the government accepted their decision.

Kim also cited a petition board set up on the Blue House’s official website, which has become an important venue for public opinion. She said that the board has “contributed to promoting communication with the people.”

Foreign dignitaries invited to the event included Tun Tun Oo, the attorney general of Myanmar, and Battumur Enkhbayar, Vice Justice Minister of Mongolia, both of whom gave speeches before a packed room.

Legal experts and academics from the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and many other countries were among the participants.

“Myanmar is now in the process of democratic transition,” said Tun Tun Oo, noting his country’s legislature was “running with momentum to make the existing laws to be in line with democratic norms.”

On encouraging public participation in the legislative process, he said Myanmar “acknowledged that the public must have access to information about parliamentary proceedings, legislation and policy, and be able to engage in continual dialogue with parliamentarians.”

The Mongolian vice justice minister admitted in his speech that his country was “facing challenges to improve law enforcement” and said it was interested in the “opinion and experiences” of other countries.

Kim Ji-hyung, a former Supreme Court justice who now practices at a local law firm, shared his experience as the chairman of the public panel that decided the fate of the nuclear reactors. In his speech, Kim said that the public decision-making process on nuclear reactors “served a bridging role” that “enabled effective communication” between the government and the public.

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