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Relaxation of Restrictions of Public Service: Sex Offenders
  • By Seo Ji-min, reporter
  • 승인 2023.10.16 01:03
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▲ Free-source image related to public service (Source: Chosun Ilbo)

In November 2019, a man known as A, who was preparing for the civil service exam, downloaded more than 200 child sexual exploitation materials through a cloud access link and was put on trial. At that time, A was charged with violating the Act on the Protection of Sexuality for Children and Adolescents, and was fined 5 million won and ordered to complete a 50- hour sexual violence treatment program. In August of the same year, man B was also indicted on charges of possessing materials of the sexual exploitation of children, and was fined 7 million won and confirmed to have completed a 40- hour sexual violence treatment program. In 2019, criminals sentenced to a fine of more than 1 million won for violating sex crimes against minors were ineligible for public officials' appointment under Article 33 of the National Public Officials Act and Article 31 of the Local Public Officials Act.

In response, A and B expressed their intention to apply for the appointment of public officials in the future and filed a constitutional petition trial, saying that the provision violates the right to serve public affairs, which is the basic right guaranteed by the Constitution. The right to be in charge of public affairs refers to the right of any citizen to take charge of public affairs as prescribed by law. On June 29 this year, the Constitutional Court accepted the claim and decided against Article 33 of the National Public Officials Act and Article 31 of the Local Public Officials Act, and ordered the National Assembly to replace the provision by May 31 next year. After reviewing the amendment by the Administrative Safety Committee, the period of restriction on the appointment of public officials for sex offenders subject to minors was finally reduced to '20 years.'

The Constitutional Court observed, "Even if sentenced for possessing child and juvenile pornography, there are various types of crimes and the nature of crimes. Since the scope of general public officials is too comprehensive and many of the various jobs are not related to children and adolescents, it is difficult to limit the appointment of criminals unconditionally. Considering the risk of recidivism of individual crimes, legislative objectives can be achieved in a less intrusive way to limit appointments for a considerable period of time," explaining the reason for the unconstitutional judgment. Nevertheless, when the media revealed the reduction of the limit on the appointment of sex offenders for crimes against minors, netizens drew intense criticism, such as, "I can't stand by as a member of society to witness a sex offenders become a public servant and wastes taxpayers' money," "This revision of the law is just a direct announcement of society's tolerance for sex offenders," and, "This has taken our society back one step." However, this is not the first case of controversy over the ethics of those who are eligible for public service appointments. Civil servants are volunteers to pursue the public interest of the whole people, and higher ethical standards are required, more so than ordinary people or corporate workers. In March 2020, a public petition was posted to accuse a man who continuously sexually harassed underage members of a girl group, who had been appointed as a ninth- grade public official within the online community 'DC Inside.' In December 2020, a public petition revealed that a successful candidate for the appointment of a seventh- grade civil servant in Gyeonggi Province, posted a number of obscene photos and posts targeting minors in the past online community, 'Illgan Best,' and the person's appointment was also canceled.

The ultimate purpose of the execution of sentences against criminals is to purify the criminal mind through edification and return to society as a good citizen. In addition, public officials are the subjects of administrative ethics, and they must have a proper ethicals view more so than anyone else. From the first hiring of public officials, people with the right job and desirable values should be selected, and even after the appointment, public officials themselves should actively strive to improve their moral behavioral tendencies and level of ethics. The nation should maintain a compatible direction that provides equal opportunities for all citizens, including criminals, to develop our society in a better direction, but does not lower people's credibility in the performance of national duties.

By Seo Ji-min, reporter  jmseo1215@naver.com

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