DP’s reckless moves continueA strange development continues as the ruling Democratic Party (DP) pushes to strip the prosecution of its investigation authority entirely.
On Wednesday, Rep. Min Hyung-bae, a DP member of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee in the National Assembly, left the DP to help the ruling party deprive the top law enforcement agency of its investigative rights by exploiting the National Assembly Act for the smooth passage of revisions to the two acts — the Prosecution Act and the Criminal Procedure Act — through the committee before a full vote in the legislature.
The DP hurriedly took action after Rep. Yang Hyang-ja, a former DP legislator and current independent, reversed her earlier decision to help pass the contentious revisions through the committee. She expressed her opposition to the revisions “based on my conscience.”
The DP’s rush to pass the disputed bills sounds loud alarms. In particular, the Office of Court Administration under the Supreme Court issued a serious warning about the party’s move. The office representing judges who determine penalties for criminal defendants based on the results of investigations by the prosecution and the police said it has never seen such a radical legislative move.
The court administration office worries about a lack of checks on the powerful police after they obtain exclusive authority to investigate criminal cases. The office pointed out that if the prosecution cannot properly control the danger of excess or incompetence, that will eventually affect the trial process.
The court administration office elaborated on the adverse ramifications of the revisions, including a ban on prosecutors intervening in substandard investigations by police officers and checks on possible violations of human rights in the process of interrogations by cops. The office also said that if the police are given an exclusive right to request warrants for criminal suspects, that would be incompatible with our Constitution.
That’s not all. Even former Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae, a former judge who led prosecutorial reforms under the liberal Roh Moo-hyun administration, criticized the DP for rushing to get rid of the prosecutors’ authority to investigate. Speaking during a radio program Tuesday, he vehemently attacked the DP for “being swayed by extremely self-justified hard-liners” in the party. He even expressed concerns about a possible “vacuum in investigative authority or anarchy in the judicial system.”
It was the DP that allowed the prosecution to directly investigate six major crimes involving corruption and elections, for instance, in return for scrapping its command over the police. Now the DP attempts to remove the authority too. That will surely boomerang.