Stop the revisionThe police voiced opposition to the revised bill on establishing a separate state investigation body on the wrongdoings of senior government officials and their families. Police have joined the prosecution and the Supreme Court in expressing concerns for abuse of the revision of the act. Police who would benefit from the government’s prosecution reforms by gaining greater investigational authority slightly eased their tone and said they were not entirely opposed to the design of the revised bill.
What the police is most concerned about are the clauses requiring unconditional obedience to the demand from the agency head for investigation cooperation, exclusion of dispatched prosecutors in the manpower quota in the extraordinary agency and surrender of all criminal cases related to senior police officers to the agency. Even without the changes, the new law enforcement agency has the dominant authority in all cases related to senior public officials. The amendments would make the agency a higher authority in criminal cases, and the police and others would have to take orders from it. If dispatched investigators are excluded from the head count of the agency, the organization could stretch as much as it wishes. It could soon become a super big and powerful investigation agency.
The bill motioned by Democratic Party (DP) Rep. Kim Yong-min has a greater danger of abuse. The revised bill proposes that four out of the seven members authorized to recommend the head of the agency should come from the National Assembly instead of the original bill that gives two equal votes to the ruling and opposition camp. Also, instead of the original plan to pick two shortlisted candidates for the head of the agency through agreements by six out of the seven members, the revised bill proposes five. That would allow the ruling party to push with its choice regardless of the opinion of the opposition. The revisions to expand the scope of indictment target and increase the quota of prosecutors and investigators, and ease criteria for qualification which also pose a worry.
The law to create a new law enforcement agency was fast-tracked by the DP in the last legislature. The ruling party had planned to launch the organization by Sept. 15. But its hope was dashed because the opposition refused to recommend a candidate for the agency head to wait for the Constitutional Court’s ruling in its suit against the law.
The DP is mounting pressure by flagging a revised bill on a law that has only been passed three months ago to launch the agency within the year. The head of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee mentioned the possibility of passing the revised bill in October.
The agency must serve as an alternative to the prosecution which had primarily served for the ruling power. But at this rate, the agency will become another cheerleader for the ruling power. If it wants to establish a fairer investigation agency, the DP must work with the opposition and follow a legitimate procedure to select the new agency head.