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PSPD    People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Civil-Political
  • 2001.10.31
  • 922

People's Disobedience and the Decision of the Constitutional Court

Modesta Park(Volunteer, PSPD)


The Seoul District Court has given 'The Blacklist Campaign' from the last year"s General Election the verdict of guilty. The Blacklist Campaign was established on January 12, 2001 by the Civil Action for the 2000 General Election (CAGE: please refer to ASQ no.1, July 2000 for the detailed activities of CAGE), and was designed to release the list of politicians who were not qualified to run in that election. CAGE consists of 412 Korean domestic civil organizations. The General Election day was on April 13, 2000 and CAGE held this campaign for three months.

The criteria for sorting out politicians not eligible for election candidacy were: 1) people who have or are currently involved in corruption, 2) people who have violated or are violating the Election Law, 3) people who have been involved in a military coup or have had an anti-human rights career, 4) people who are not diligently carrying out their parliamentary job, and so on. In sum, the CAGE aims to:

□ Eliminate corrupt politicians

□ Amend the parts of the Election Law that deny the people their fundamental political rights

□ Organize nation-wide campaigns against old, erroneous political habits and election customs

□ Gather international support for CAGE

After the General Election, in spite of the fact that the contribution of the campaign had been recognized through the strong participation of the public, the prosecutor filed charges against the leaders of CAGE. Six leaders among the accused CAGE members, who organized the campaign in Seoul, were sentenced and ordered to pay a heavy fine. The court said that this social campaign violated the operating election law. CAGE refused to accept the decision of the Seoul District Court, so it decided to appeal to the High Court.

At the same time, the members of CAGE decided to send a petition to the Constitutional Court. However, on August 30, 2001, the decision of the Constitutional Court was in favor of the one of the Seoul District Court.

From what point of view has the campaign violated the operating law? The Court listed reasons as follows:

▷ The selection of persons on the Blacklist was biased because only a small number of representatives from NGOs participated in this selection process. The Court insisted that the process of selection was undemocratic and went against the time.

▷ The standard of selection lacked justice and rationality.

▷ The investigation for selecting persons on the Blacklist was carried out only for a month or so, and lacked accuracy of information and reliability.

▷ Regardless of the ultimate aim of the campaign, the Defeating Election campaign against a certain candidate resulted in making a favorable circumstance for an opposite candidate.

▷ In general, people had a strong aversion to the Defeating Election campaign, which resulted in a decrease in the number of participants voting in the 16th General Election.

What makes people involved in the campaign unable to accept the decision of the Court? They insist the decision was based on a lack of understanding of freedom of expression and speech, the basic concept of the Constitution, which is very disappointing.

▷ The ultimate aim of the campaign was to defeat incompetent and corrupt candidates.

▷ The campaign appealed to the public non-violently and peacefully and the campaign gained about 68% in public approval.

▷ The verdict of guilty handed down against the Defeating Election campaign resulted in a violation of the freedom of speech and the right to vote, which are the backbone of the Constitutional Law.

▷ A prosecutor said that the campaign brought a strong aversion from the public. However, people are disgusted enough by corruption in politics and the idea that money can make anything possible. People have seen many cases of an incompetent candidate winning an election because of bribery. During the period of the National Assembly the attendance rate of Members of Parliament is below 10% on average. There are very few MPs who can bring forth a bill in their term as an MP. These all brought about the birth of CAGE and its campaign.

PSPD makes its stand against the prosecution in court. Moreover, its petition to the High court turned in favor of convicting CAGE. The PSPD believes that the decision violated the basic concept of the Constitution, which is the freedom of expression and speech. It is disappointed that the court did not consider these factors enough, and that the decision of the High Court resulted in its remaining an idle spectator, without either stopping more corruption or making a better and fairer election environment. However the PSPD keep its hope high that the decision of the High Court will bring the right and fair decision later, so that it can make a step forward to clean politics.

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