New prosecutor general’s challenges

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New prosecutor general’s challenges

President Moon Jae-in on Monday named Yoon Seok-youl, current head of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, the new prosecutor general. Moon’s decision reflects his deep trust in Yoon in a crusade to reform the prosecution. To achieve the goal of cleaning up the top law enforcement agency, the president picked him as the chief of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office two years ago — an exceptional promotion of a senior prosecutor from the Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office.

Yoon’s nomination sends a clear message to continue a reform of the prosecution and investigations of what the president calls “past evils.” If Yoon passes a confirmation hearing in the National Assembly, he becomes the first prosecutor general to take the job without serving as the head of a high prosecutors’ office since 1988.

First, Yoon must pursue prosecution reforms for the people’s sake. He must not be held hostage to the prosecution’s past image as a servant to the powers that be. He needs to lay down some of the prosecution’s massive power and must not blindly hand over the prosecution’s power to the police to the extent of fully guaranteeing them the right to close cases on their own. He must not act in sync with the Blue House even when he is forced to — and must speak for the prosecution when the need arises.

Second, public fatigue is quickly growing as a result of the liberal administration’s relentless crackdown on past evils mostly involving former government officials. He must focus on crimes that directly affect citizens from now to help the government put our economy back on track.

Third, he should help change the tradition of the prosecution in which senior prosecutors automatically retire when their junior peers are promoted to the level of prosecutor general. If the practice continues, as many as 30 senior prosecutors have to retire. Instead, he should transfer them to other key positions in the prosecution.

Fourth, he must prevent unnecessary encroachment of public interest as a result of the ongoing friction between the prosecution and the judiciary under former Chief Justice Yang Seung-tae over the alleged abuse of power by the Supreme Court’s administration office.

Last, Yoon must exercise his power in a balanced way. If he is swayed by the president’s aides, relatives and heavyweight politicians, it only leads to more evils. He said he does not obey whomever is in power. We hope he proves it through actions.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 18, Page 30
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