Ministry of Public Administration and Security Advisory Committee ‘Strengthen Police Control’ Order
Police “Resurrection of Security Headquarters after 31 Years”
On the 21st, the Police System Improvement Advisory Committee (System Improvement Committee), an advisory body of the Minister of the Interior and Safety, recommended that a police department such as the so-called ‘Police Department’ be established within the Ministry of Public Administration and Security to guarantee the minister’s practical personnel rights and disciplinary powers. At the same time, he ordered measures to strengthen police control by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, such as enacting the command rules of the Commissioner of the National Police Agency. The National Police Agency held a meeting right after the announcement of the recommendation of the institutional improvement committee and protested, saying, “It did not properly capture the basic spirit of the police system of democracy, neutrality, responsibility.”
○ “Resurrection of the Police Department after 31 years”
The Institutional Improvement Committee held a press conference at the government complex in Seoul on the afternoon of the same day and said, “According to the Constitution and the Government Organization Act, the Minister of Public Administration and Security has to perform various roles in relation to the National Police Agency, such as directing the head of the National Police Agency and recommending personnel. ” and ordered the establishment of a ‘police support organization’.
Although the name has not been confirmed, the police support department contained in the recommendation will be in charge of police-related affairs, such as the minister’s right to request personnel, propose and propose laws, and command the head of the department. However, inside and outside the police, some point out that the police department, which was a member of the Ministry of Home Affairs (currently the Ministry of Public Administration and Security), became independent in 1991 and the public security headquarters, which disappeared after 31 years, is effectively reviving as a ‘police department’.
A plan to substantiate the Minister of Public Administration and Security’s right to request personnel appointments is also included in the recommendations. The institutional improvement committee recommended the establishment of a candidate recommendation committee or recommendation advisory committee to the Ministry of Public Administration and Security for proposals from the Commissioner of the National Police Agency, the head of the National Investigation Headquarters, and other high-ranking police officers above the superintendent.
The purpose is to ensure that the recruitment of high-ranking police officers is transparent and objective. It also included a plan to grant the Minister of Public Administration and Security the right to demand disciplinary action against high-ranking police officers, including the Commissioner of the National Police Agency. The Institutional Improvement Committee also ordered the enactment of a ‘command rule’ that allows the minister to direct the head of the agency he belongs to.
The recommendations also included the ‘carrot policy’, such as improving the multiple rank system and the rank retirement system, expanding promotion to lower ranks, and improving police treatment. It is interpreted that he was conscious of the opposition of the front-line police.
○ “Realization of the power of ministerial proposals that were not famous”
Lawyer Hwang Jeong-geun, co-chair of the institutional improvement committee, said, “The legal nature and scope of the police investigation power has fundamentally changed, such as the abolition of the prosecutor’s right to direct investigation and the independent investigation and decision-making power of the police.” “The relationship between the Ministry of Public Administration and Security and the National Police Agency A consensus has been formed that supplementary measures are necessary,” he explained.
However, there is an analysis that the Minister of Public Administration and Security will strengthen police control by using the right to request personnel and disciplinary action to high-ranking police officers based on the recommendation.
Personnel verification for existing high-ranking police officers (general supervisor or higher) was overseen by the Blue House Senior Civil Affairs Office. When the Commissioner of the National Police Agency recommends a person to be hired, the president appoints the person through the Prime Minister on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Administration and Security. The Institutional Improvement Committee believes that the ineffectiveness of the Minister of Public Administration and Security’s right to make a personnel request can be substantiated to transparently manage police personnel.
The minister’s right to demand disciplinary action against high-ranking positions is also a card that can be shaken by the police. Currently, with the exception of the Prosecutor’s Office, all other external agencies, including the National Police Agency, exercise the disciplinary powers of their employees. The system improvement committee emphasized the need for reform, saying, “There is a problem that the Commissioner of the National Police Agency has to request disciplinary action on his own under the current procedure.”
○ Police release data to refute the recommendation and spread the backlash
The National Police Agency convened a videoconference with the command team on the same day and issued a statement saying, “This recommendation goes against the historical development process. There is also a high concern that the rule of law, the basic principle of the Constitution, may be undermined.”
In addition, problems with the recommendations were pointed out on a case-by-case basis and countermeasures were taken. First of all, the police objected, saying that most of the recommendations of the institutional improvement committee should precede amendment of the law. Regarding the establishment of a dedicated organization within the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, the police said, “The establishment of a police organization in the Ministry of Public Administration and Security without amendments to the Government Organization Act, etc. may undermine the rule of law.”
The establishment of the high-ranking police personnel committee refuted, saying, “Since it is a matter of the appointment and hiring procedures, the legal basis should be clarified through revisions such as the Police Civil Service Act.” He also said that the proposal to grant the minister the right to demand disciplinary action is also “necessary to revise the Police Civil Service Act, etc.”
During the meeting of the police commander on that day, it is reported that there was also criticism that the command’s response was insufficient, such as the ‘resignation of the police chief’ was discussed among some attendees.
The National Police Commission criticized the recommendation, saying, “It raises serious concerns that the police administration and system are trying to revert to what they were 30 years ago.”
Frontline police officers also opposed the recommendation. The delegation of the Seoul Police Workers’ Council (direct cooperation) held a press conference in front of the government complex in Seoul on the same day and said, “The idea of establishing a new police department within the Ministry of Public Administration and Security to be involved in personnel, budget, and supervision and even lead investigations would undermine the principle of democratic checks.” criticized that Police Reform Network, a civic group, also raised its voice at a press conference held in front of the government complex in Seoul on the same day, saying, “The stronger the police control authority of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security strengthens, the more likely the police will be subordinated directly to political power.”
Meanwhile, after the National Police Agency announced the appointment of 28 security chiefs on the afternoon of the same day, it reversed the order of 7 officers in just over two hours, suggesting that there may have been internal conflicts related to personnel management. The National Police Agency called it “a worker’s mistake”.
By Kim Ki-yoon, staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
Reporter Sa Ji-won email@example.com