The Korea Herald


Justice Minister orders prosecution to guarantee teachers’ rights in child abuse investigations

By Park Jun-hee

Published : Sept. 8, 2023 - 15:01

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Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon (left) and Education Minister Lee Ju-ho (Yonhap) Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon (left) and Education Minister Lee Ju-ho (Yonhap)

Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon on Friday ordered the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office to ensure that teachers’ rights are “truly guaranteed” when the prosecution investigates cases related to teachers' guidance of students.

The minister said the prosecution should “reflect the distinct characteristics of a school environment” and the “role of teachers in schools,” adding that the enforcement of criminal laws related to teachers and child abuse should be enhanced.

Han’s announcement comes after some 120,000 teachers took to the streets nationwide on Monday to call for better protection of their rights and demanded that parliament pass a bill to grant teachers immunity from unjust child abuse claims.

“Teachers at schools shouldn’t be dwarfed when they make their own educational judgments. At the same time, they should be respected (when doing so),” Han was quoted as saying by the ministry.

He also instructed the prosecuters’ office to listen carefully to the testimonies of those involved in the case, including teachers, students, schools and officials at the education office, and to bear in mind the opinions of education superintendents regarding the case of teachers’ guidance of students.

Following Han’s instruction, the criminal investigation department at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office immediately delivered the new measures to prosecution offices across the country.

The SPO also ordered the prosecution to promptly dismiss a case if it was clear that the teacher had not committed an offense. The SPO also ordered that the prosecution collect opinions from education experts, the Prosecution Service and Citizens Committee and the local community to help it make a justifiable decision.

The prosecution was also instructed to avoid summoning teachers for investigations and to make use of non-face-to-face and written investigations.

On a separate note, the Justice Ministry said it has teamed up with the Education Ministry and related government bodies to form a task force team dedicated to improving law enforcement for teachers being investigated for child abuse claims.