2/23/2007

Lobbying to Be Legalized

Korea Times Feb. 23, 2007

By Kim Rahn
Staff Reporter

In an effort to root out bribery, the government is considering revising the law on lobbying. Lobbying is currently illegal in Korea because it is associated with bribes.

According to the plan proposed in a report submitted by Justice Minister Kim Sung-ho to President Roh Moo-hyun, lobbyists will be asked to register and to report their activities to the government.

``Legalizing lobbyists is a part of efforts to boost trust and transparency in the policymaking process, as lobbying has been done under-the-table so far and usually involved bribery. The law is expected to prevent corruption,’’ Kim said.

The ministry has organized a committee of 12 legal professionals to study the lobbying systems of other countries.

In other developments, the government said it would take a firm attitude toward unlawful collective action. It has sent a proposal to the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs to ban demonstrators from wearing masks.

In response to the increasing number of people working off fines in jail because they didn’t have the money to pay them, the ministry said it would ask those unable to pay their fines to do community service instead of jail time.

A law capping the annual interest rate on private loans is likely to be established to prevent usury, and the limit is expected to be 40 percent. A similar law was repealed in 1998.

The government said it will run a separate detention center for foreign prisoners to prevent possible human rights abuse. A building at a detention center for juvenile offenders in Chonan, South Chungchong Province, will be used exclusively for foreigners.

The ministry is also in charge of managing the presidential elections, which are slated for December.

``We will set up a taskforce team in charge of election management at the prosecution before May when each political party selects its presidential candidate,’’ the minister said.

A team will be established at the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office to monitor illegal campaigning using user-created content, he said.



rahnita@koreatimes.co.kr

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com