South Korea gives full investigative authority to police

By Wooyoung Lee  |  June 21, 2018 at 5:45 AM
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SEOUL, June 20 (UPI) -- South Korean police will be given an independent investigative authority with which they can investigate crimes without prosecutors' supervision in a long-sought reform by President Moon Jae-in.

Part of the police-prosecutor investigative power reform, police will be given the right to initiate and terminate crime investigation without approval from the prosecution's office. Prosecutors will see their investigative rights limited to certain cases in need of their direct investigation.

"Police will have the authority to investigate and terminate all cases and prosecutors will have the right to investigate certain cases, complement police investigation and recommend corrective measures to police. The separation and redistribution of investigative powers will enhance the effectiveness of investigation and protect people's human rights and safety," Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon said in a televised press conference on Thursday, joined by a presidential secretary for civil affairs, justice minister and interior minister.

The police will be able to open investigations, including seeking an arrest warrant that has only been sought by prosecutors so far. They will also be able to close without approval from the prosecution. The reform measures seek to reduce the prosecution office's over-powered authority in their investigation and have them focus on indictments and conduct investigation when needed.

"This is to give police more autonomy in their investigation and enhance the prosecution's judicial control," said Lee.

The issue of the investigative power reform has long been discussed with concerns that prosecutors hold the investigative rights too powerful in their investigation and prosecution. In a series of prosecutors' corruption scandals, the South Korean police have demanded independent investigative authority to look into prosecutors' corruption cases without their approval.

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