The Korea Herald


Bill seeks more legal protection for police use of force

By Kim Arin

Published : Aug. 30, 2023 - 17:17

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Korean National Police Agency Korean National Police Agency

After a series of seemingly random stabbings swept across South Korea in the past month, a bill was proposed on Wednesday to reduce liability for police officers when they use force at certain crime scenes.

Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun of the ruling People Power Party said he would introduce a bill to reduce liability for police officers should they cause harm to another individual while engaging in physical interactions with offenders if there is no intent or gross negligence on the part of the officer. He stated in a release that the bill is aimed at facilitating the execution of police duties in unpredictable or confrontational situations.

The lawmaker said the bill, drafted in the wake of recent violent crimes, would shield police officers from civil, criminal or other consequences while on duty.

If passed, the bill would expand the scope of qualified immunity -- applicable when there is a clear threat to people's lives -- to include crimes related to the obstruction of public duties and intimidation using weapons.

Current laws already give police qualified immunity when responding to crimes such as murder, sexual or physical assault, robbery, domestic violence or child abuse.

The bill would also make the government, rather than the individual officer, liable in lawsuits related to police use of force, Yoon added.

The bill comes in addition to a set of bills being prepared by the ruling party to prevent attacks in public spaces, including one that would ban people from openly carrying weapons and another one that would toughen penalties for threatening to physically harm others.

The presidential office said Tuesday that additional measures were being reviewed to provide police officers with less lethal firearms that could be used during violent confrontations with offenders.