PSPD in English Civil-Political 2010-08-11   3506

Objections to the August 15 Special Pardons That Verify “All Mighty Is the Dollar”

Objections to the August 15 Special Pardons
That Verify “All Mighty Is the Dollar”

The President Should Keep His Promise to Give No More Politically Motivated Amnesty during His Tenure.
The Amnesty Law Should Be Revised to Make Public the Panel of Judges and the Deliberation Contents.

The government announced today (11th) that the Amnesty Judging Committee of the Ministry of Justice will decide on the scope and the list of the August 15 National Liberation Day special pardons, reporting the results to the Blue House. The Committee will announce the final list of pardons at the extraordinary Cabinet meeting to be held on the 13th. The Center for Judiciary Watch in PSPD objects to the inclusion into the special pardons list of businessmen who disrupted the national economy and politicians who committed corruption by exercising their influence.

It has been reported that some time ago the Ministry of Justice delivered a proposal to the Blue House, granting special pardons to Lee Haksoo, advisor to the Samsung Electronics, Kim Junki, President of the Dongbu Group, Jung Taesoo, former President of the Hanbo Group and Kim Inju, former deputy director of the Samsung Group, as well as the late former President Roh Moohyun’s elder brother Roh Geonpyeong, and law-maker Seo Chungwon, former leader of the Coalition of the Assembly members close to law maker Park Geonhye. The proposal appears to include almost all of the 78 businessmen recommended by the nation’s five business lobby groups including the Federation of Korean Industries. Special pardons were already given to a total of 45 CEOs and executives including Jeong Monggu, President of the Hyundai Motors, in the 2008 National Liberation Day to ‘help revive the economy’,. Moreover, while approaching the new year of 2010 special pardon was issued to Lee Geonhee, President of the Samsung Group on the pretext of ‘helping the activities to host the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.’. At that time, it had barely been four months since Lee was found guilty for malpractice and tax evasion under the Act of Aggravated Punishment for Specific Economic Crimes.

People are reminded of the saying, ‘all mighty is the dollar,’ when special pardons are easily given to those politicians and businessmen with money and power. It is too common in the nation to see businessmen who committed all kinds of corrupted acts imposingly demand presidential amnesty, and so many politicians boast of their criminal experience rather than their contribution to the nation. All this makes people doubt if the common sense, ‘all are equal before the law’ is accepted in the country.

Considering the administration’s special emphasis on such phrases as ‘the rule of law’, ‘national character’, ‘working class-friendly policy’ and ‘social responsibility of the leadership class’, it is true that special pardons the President granted so far have been crippling all this. In a congratulatory speech on the occasion of the National Liberation Day in 2008, which granted amnesty to a large number of businessmen, President Lee publicly promised ‘not to be generous towards corruption and injustice during my tenure.’ In addition, at a dinner with the newly inaugurated leaders of the Grand National Party on the 30th, he vowed that he ‘would not grant amnesty that is politically motivated.’ We hope that the promise by President Lee will be kept at least in the 8.15 special pardons.

The authority to grant amnesty by the President is exceptional in terms of separation of powers, which reverses decisions by the judiciary. It is essential the authority to be used as a last resort to protect human rights from the abuse of judicial power. However, the right has been abused as a tool to give special favors to corrupted politicians and high-profile economic criminals. The ‘Amnesty Judging Committee’ was inaugurated under the Amnesty Law revised at the end of 2007 to prevent the abuse of presidential right to grant amnesty. However, the Committee has been reduced to assisting the abuse since the 2008 National Liberation Day special pardons, which was the very first mission of the Committee. At least to stop this, the Amnesty Law should be revised as soon as possible to bolster the independence and transparency of the Committee by augmenting the number of outside members, disclosing organization of the Committee along with the process and contents of the deliberation to the public. In order to restore the original purpose of the Committee, we urge the Amnesty Judging Committee to exclude politician and economic criminals irrelevant to social integration from the list at today’s meeting.


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