Published : 2013-09-09 20:02
Updated : 2013-09-09 20:02
The Ministry of Justice has launched a task force to see if it can take to the Constitutional Court a case that seeks to disband the leftist, minor opposition United Progressive Party.
The ministry’s move is a response to the petitions filed in May by conservative civic groups, which asked it to invoke its constitutional right to pursue dissolution of a political party that threatens the democratic order.
The nation’s Constitution stipulates that the government can bring action against a political party in the Constitutional Court for its dissolution if its “purposes or activities are contrary to the fundamental democratic order.”
The civic groups claimed that the UPP had seriously undermined national security and the democratic order by engaging in antistate activities, such as picking pro-North Korea figures for Assembly seats and standing for the North’s development of nuclear weapons.
Thus far the government has not made any serious attempt to break up the political party. What prompted the Justice Ministry to consider exercising what has been regarded largely as a notional right was the arrest last week of UPP lawmaker Lee Seok-ki on charges of treason.
The ministry is under pressure from the ruling Saenuri Party to pursue the dissolution of the UPP. The party has a reason. It is now seeking to expel Lee from parliament.
But the problem is that even if Lee is ousted, it would make little difference because his parliamentary seat will likely be taken over by a man cut from the same mold. Lee’s likely successor is a shady figure who had been imprisoned for 13 years on charges of spying for North Korea.
This prospect raised questions about the wisdom of expelling Lee and led Saenuri leaders to realize that the fundamental solution was dissolving the UPP.
The ministry said its task force, while examining the issue of taking the UPP to the Constitutional Court, would also explore ways to fill the glaring gaps in the present legal system regarding organizations that have been branded as antistate by the Supreme Court.
Woefully, the current law allows such organizations to ignore the court’s verdicts and continue their activities unrestricted.
According to reports, there are currently 25 pro-North Korea organizations that have brazenly continued to engage in antistate campaigns even after the top court had exposed their true nature.
The court’s verdicts are ineffectual because they are not accompanied by forceful disbandment of the identified organizations. Currently, there are no legal grounds that the government has to dissolve court-defined antistate groups.
In this regard, the ministry’s move is overdue. Had the gaps in the legal system been plugged earlier, the pro-North Korea forces in the South would not have grown to the point of securing a solid presence in the National Assembly and stealing state secrets in a totally legal fashion.
While the ministry endeavors to find a remedy, lawmakers need to discuss a bill submitted in May by Rep. Shim Jae-chul of the Saenuri Party to address the same problem.
The bill proposes to authorize the government to break up organizations once they are identified by the court as antistate. It also proposes to seize their assets if public money has been provided to them.