Gov‘t to balance investigative power between police, prosecution

Jun 22, 2018, 09:38 am

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(From left) Minister of Interior and Safety Kim Boo-kyum, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, Minister of Justice Park Sang-ki and Cho Kuk, the presidential senior secretary for civil affairs, pose for a photograph after signing an agreement to balance investigative authority between the police and prosecution at the Seoul Government Complex in Seoul on Thursday, June 21./ Photographed by Jung Jae-hoon

By AsiaToday reporter Joo Sung-sik 

The authority to control investigations that was monopolized by the prosecution will be largely given to the police. Police will be able to open, lead and close investigations without the prosecution's supervision while the prosecution will have the right to conduct direct probes on a limited number of cases, along with power of accusation.

The government announced an agreement on reorganizing investigation procedures for the police and prosecution in a press briefing attended by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, Justice Minister Park Sang-ki, Interior and Safety Minister Kim Boo-kyum, and presidential secretary for civil affairs Cho Kuk at the Seoul Government Complex in Seoul on Thursday.

The main point of the agreement signed by ministers Park and Kim is that it redefines the relationship between the prosecution and the police as cooperative, not authoritative. "The government has set up a relationship in which the prosecution and the police cooperate in order to open and conduct investigations smoothly," Cho Kuk, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, said. 

To this end, the government upholds the principle that the police should have more autonomy in initial investigations, and that the prosecution should be more faithful to their role of exercising judicial control. As a result, the police will be given the right to conduct and close initial investigations on their own in all cases without the prosecution's supervision while prosecutors will be required to focus on its primary role of prosecuting cases, and to conduct initial investigations in only necessary cases.

The prosecution will have the right to conduct direct probes on certain special cases, the right to investigate after having a case handed over, the right to request supplementary probes for police investigations, the right to request police officers to be penalized if a request for a reinvestigation is rejected without clear cause, the right to request the corrective action if the police abuses its investigative authority, and the right to investigate after having a case handed over if the police refuses to take corrective action. 

The relationship between the prosecution and police will be balanced. If the police requests a legal warrant to confiscate, search, or arrest against a prosecutor or a prosecutor's office staff for alleged crime, the prosecution operate the relevant system to promptly request the court for a warrant. The prosecution will have priority if a case comes under investigation by the police and prosecutors' office simultaneously. However, the police will be given priority to the crime on the warrant if the police commence a compulsory disposition by a warrant. 

Regional police agencies will be established as part of measures to prevent the police agency from becoming too powerful. Under the agreement, regional police agencies will begin operations in Seoul, Sejong, and Jeju by 2019. The system will be expanded nationwide within President Moon Jae-in's term, which ends in 2022.
The police agency will be tasked with drawing up measures to prevent officers in non-investigative posts from interfering with investigations and to strengthen mechanisms for protecting human rights. 

"Although the agreement cannot be perfect, I hope it will be institutionalized through legislation without hurting the spirit of the agreement, even if we make up for the shortcomings," Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said during a press briefing.

#investigative power #police #prosecution #Moon Jae-in 
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