|▲Ambiguous criteria for disclosing the suspect's identity
Kang Yoon-sung, who killed two people three months after being released from prison on August 29, turned himself in. The police arrested Kang Yoon-sung and decided to disclose his identity. Meanwhile, the identity of a man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing a 20-month-old infant, has not been disclosed. More than 210,000 people agreed to a petition for Yang's disclosure of identity, however, it is difficult to disclose Yang's identity. Under the current law, only suspects can be identified. However, Yang was convicted as a result of the trial. We don't know what the criteria for identifying Kang Yoon-sung and Yang, who were suspects in the past, are. We listened to Changwon University students' opinions on the ambiguous criteria for identifying suspects.
Q: Please introduce yourself.
Bok: I'm Bok Gyung-yeon, majoring in Korean Language and Literature.
Sim: I'm Sim Hae-rim, majoring Sinology.
Q: Do you know the criteria for identifying suspects?
Sim: I understand that if the suspect's crime is a violent crime, he will disclose his identity when necessary for the public interest, such as the right to know.
Q: What do you think is the reason for the current disclosure of identity criteria?
Bok: This is because the suspect could be retaliated against after disclosing his identity. I think it respects the human rights of the suspects. Additionally, I think it's to protect children under the age of 19 and prevent possible damage or defamation from false charges or allegations.
Sim: Although he committed a crime, it is also considered the human rights of the suspect, so I think it has strict disclosure standards.
Q: What do you think of the current standards?
Bok: I agree that disclosure should be used for the public good. However, there are two criteria that are most difficult to understand. First of all, I believe that it is necessary to clarify the exact criteria for, ‘serious crimes with brutal methods.’ Second, the disclosure of personal information is only applicable to adults aged 19 and over. If a crime committed by a juvenile is as brutal as a serial killer, I think we should disclose the criminal's identity.
Q: Do you think standards should change in the future? How should it change?
Bok: I think we should change the standards of identifying suspects more clearly and fairly. First of all, we must specify exactly what a brutal and serious crime is, and what solid evidence there is to believe that the suspect has committed the crime. Additionally, I think juvenile suspects under the age of 19 should disclose their identity.
Sim: From now on, the standards must change. I believe that the standards should be more concrete. Furthermore, I think it is necessary to fully explain the decision to the public, if the identity of the person who committed the violent crime is to not be disclosed.
Since Kang Ho-soon's serial murder in 2009, public opinion has been calling for the disclosure of the faces of murderers. According to the Special Law on the Punishment of Certain Strong Crimes, prosecutors and judicial police officers, have made it possible to disclose the personal information of a suspect in a particular violent crime case that meets all four of the following requirements: ‘The means of the crime are brutal and serious crimes,’ ‘There is sufficient evidence to believe that the suspect committed the crime,’ ‘The right of the people to know and the suspect is exclusively necessary for the public interest, such as prevention of recidivism,’ and ‘The suspect is not a teenager’. However, it also stipulates, ‘We should not make decisions and abuse the suspect's human rights in consideration of his or her disclosure’.
As the number of anti-social violent criminals increases, social voices for the people's right to know are increasing. However, the criteria for identification are ambiguous, and even violent criminals are often unknown to the public. More and more people are arguing that the identity of suspects should be disclosed for the sake of the public interest, but there are also weaknesses in disclosing them. If their identity is disclosed, the suspect will be convicted before being tried, based on public opinion. This is contrary to the "principle of presumption of innocence," as stipulated in the Constitution. Moreover, the identity of the suspect will be disclosed, causing secondary damage to people around him, including his family. Amid growing controversy over the criteria for identifying suspects, it seems necessary to disclose them on objective grounds. In addition, since it is related to the people's right to know, the background of the decision should be explained explicitly when it is decided whether or not to disclose the identity.
By An So-yeon, cub-reporter email@example.com
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