Interior ministry to create new bureau to directly oversee police

김한주 / 2022-06-21 15:10:31
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interior ministry-police
▲ Members of an advisory committee, set up at the instruction of Minister Lee Sang-min, hold a press conference on June 21, 2022, to announce a set of proposals to oversee police. (Yonhap)

interior ministry-police

Interior ministry to create new bureau to directly oversee police

By Kim Han-joo

SEOUL, June 21 (Yonhap) -- The interior ministry on Tuesday unveiled a plan to set up a new bureau to exercise direct control of police despite protest and concern the move could put the law enforcement agency under political influence.

The plan to create what is often dubbed a "police bureau" came as police are set to take on more investigative roles from the prosecution under a new law aimed at reducing and ultimately abolishing the prosecution's investigative powers.

The establishment of a new organization overseeing police was one of the recommendations that an advisory committee, which was set up at the instruction of Minister Lee Sang-min, made as part of a set of police reform proposals.

It will mark the first time in 31 years for the interior ministry to exercise direct control of police since the law enforcement agency was spun off as an outside organization of the ministry in 1991 as part of efforts to ensure its independence and neutrality.

The plan is expected to draw criticism from within police and the main opposition Democratic Party.

The advisory committee also recommended giving the interior ministry the right to recommend candidates for top police positions and the interior minister the right to demand disciplinary measures for the chief of the National Police Agency and other senior police officials.

The committee consists of nine members, including six civilians, such as professors and lawyers. It is co-chaired by Vice Minister of the Interior and Safety Han Chang-seob and lawyer Hwang Jeong-geun, who formerly served as a district court judge.

"Such expanded and strengthened police power is unprecedented," lawyer Hwang told reporters during a press conference, adding supervising the police organization is duly needed at a time when police are scheduled to take over greater roles from the prosecution.

The proposals are advisory, but they are mostly likely to be adopted.

The main opposition Democratic Party has accused the government of attempting to infringe on the political neutrality of police arguing the bureau could be used to control police for political purposes.

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