The Korea Herald


Ministry to abolish parenticide clause

By 배현정

Published : April 19, 2011 - 18:55

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The clause on parenticide, which places additional criminal penalty on murderers who have killed their parents, is to be deleted from the criminal law.

The criminal law revision committee met in the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office on Monday and resolved to rid the criminal law of the special clause, according to the Justice Ministry on Tuesday.

Under the present law, those who have murdered their own parents or those of their spouse are to be sentenced to a minimum of seven years. The minimum sentence for most cases of murder is five years.

The clause was initially enacted in 1953 but has since faced controversies over its legal inequality.

Similar penalty articles exist for those who have physically assaulted their parents, which the committee also decided to repeal.

“With regard to Clause 11 of the Constitution, which bars any discrimination based on birth or social status, the parenticide clause may be seen as an unlawful discrimination based on family backgrounds,” said an official of the ministerial committee.

As the criminal law was revised last year, the maximum jail term for murderers was raised to 30 years from the previous 20 years, thus enabling judges to hand down a heavier penalty on parent killers, if necessary, the committee added.

Korea is currently the only country which places additional penalty on parenticide as opposed to other murders.

Japan, which has a legal system similar to Korea, had similar clauses in the past but its top court ruled them unconstitutional in 1973 and they were deleted in 1995.

Some, however, disapproved of discarding the patricide clause, insisting that it is a necessary blockade against the breakdown of morality and filial duties.

“The patricide clause does not only hand down a higher jail term for the crime, but also has an educational, preventive effect,” said a committee member who spoke against the abolition.

The Constitutional Court, back in 2002, also ruled in favor of the clause on the murder of parents.

“Parenticide is a crime against humanity and it is rational, in light of our historic and moral culture, to place a severe punishment on it under a separate clause,” the court said in its ruling.

The committee also excluded husbands from the infanticide clause, a move which mitigates the sentence for those who kill their newborn baby.

The clause was established in consideration of the postpartum depression experienced by mothers and thus need not include husbands, according to the committee.

The ministry is to confirm a revision bill, based on the committee’s draft, and submit it to the National Assembly in the later half of the year, officials said.

The 24-member ministerial committee was launched in 2007, aiming to update the decades-old criminal law for today’s society.

By Bae Hyun-jung (