No return to the past

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No return to the past

 Controversy has erupted over the promise on Monday by People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol to reform judicial policies if elected. In a nutshell, it is desirable for a debate on changing them to proceed toward the goal of offering the best judicial services to the public rather than sticking with political gains expected from such a revamp. For instance, a new president needs to fix many problems caused by the Moon Jae-in administration’s rush to redistribute investigative rights between the prosecution and the police. Yet Yoon should be careful not to give too much power to the top law enforcement agency as in the past.

Yoon’s proposal includes reforming the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO), scrapping a justice minister’s command over a prosecutor general in investigations, expansion of the scope of prosecutors’ investigations of senior government officials, and ensuring a prosecutor general’s right to draw up the budget for the prosecution. Such pledges suggest Yoon’s displeasure with the Moon administration’s attempts to downsize the power of the prosecution. Moon’s prosecutorial reforms were attacked for attempting to weaken the prosecution for political purposes instead of bringing more justice to our criminal law system.

Though it was packaged as reforms, the new system initiated by Moon was distorted from the start. The CIO has been persistently criticized for a lack of neutrality since its launch over a year ago. Nevertheless, the prosecution is still under attack for its biased investigations in favor of the powers that be. Such problems must be fixed whoever becomes the next president.

And yet, a new president must avoid returning to using the prosecution as in the past. Despite criticism of justice ministers abusing their rights to command prosecutor generals, a new president must respect public opinion supporting the democratic control of the prosecution. A new leader can consider the idea of strictly defining a justice minister’s command over a prosecutor general to prevent abuses of the command.

Earlier, Yoon provoked controversy by expressing an interest in probing the Moon administration. He hinted at the possibility of promoting an anti-Moon prosecutor to a major post in the prosecution if he is elected president. Yoon can be criticized for his own vendetta on the Moon administration.

Whoever wins the election must not forget that they are elected president to firmly establish the rule of law in this land so that anti-corruption systems can successfully check the powers that be.
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