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Laws subject to public interest reporting expanded ‘284→467...
Date
2020-05-13
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62
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Laws subject to public interest reporting expanded ‘284467,

revised Public Interest Whistleblower Protection Act slated to be promulgated

- With Major Acts, such as the Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment, etc. of Sexual Crimes, the Military Service Act, and the Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment, etc. of Child Abuse Crimes, added, the protection of public interest reporters is more bolstered -

 

May 12, 2020

Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission

The Republic of Korea

The revised Public Interest Whistleblower Protection Act (the “Amendments”), which newly added 182 laws including the Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment, etc. of Sexual Crimes and the Military Service Act that are socially critical and urgent to the existing 284 laws the violation of which is deemed as a conduct detrimental to the public interest, were passed at today’s Cabinet meeting to be promulgated on May 19. The promulgated bill will come into force on November 20, 2020.

Aside from the newly added 182 laws, three Acts that had been repealed were deleted from the list of existing 284 laws and four laws that had been split off from the repealed laws were newly added to the list, making the total number of Acts subject to the Public Interest Whistleblower Protection Act add up to 467.

The laws that were listed in the amendment bills proposed by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC, Chairperson Pak Un Jong) in 2018 and this year and the laws listed in the bill proposed by the 20th National Assembly members are both reflected in the Amendments passed this time.

The Amendments are to add the largest number of laws to be subject to the Public Interest Whistleblower Protection Act (the “Act”) since the implementation of the Act on September 30, 2011. The ACRC expects public interest reporters who have been left in the blind spot of the protection to be entitled to the reinforced protection through this expansion of laws covered by the Act.

Change in the number of laws covered by the Public Interest Whistleblower Protection Act

(2011.9.30.) 180 laws (2015.7.24.) 279 laws (2018.5.1.) 284 laws

Currently, any conduct detrimental to the health and safety of the people, the environment, the interests of consumers, fair competition or other equivalents that has been performed or is likely to be performed in violation of the 284 Acts is subject to public interest reporting.

The laws covered by the Act have been on the rise since the implementation of the Act. However, there was a criticism that they are still insufficient to reflect all the various conducts detrimental to the public interest. As a matter of fact, among the public interest reports received by the ACRC this year, there was a case of a false report on a transaction of real estate under which the parties did not enter into a sales contract, which could be deemed a violation of the Act on Report on Real Estate Transactions, etc. It was not possible to process this case as a public interest report since the Act on Report on Real Estate Transactions, etc. was not subject to public interest reporting.

However, as the promulgated bill to revise the Public Interest Whistleblower Protection Act that was passed at the National Assembly on April 29 was approved at a Cabinet meeting, the 182 laws that are closely related to the public livelihood, such as the Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment, etc. of Sexual Crimes, the Military Service Act and the Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment, etc. of Child Abuse Crimes, which are socially significant and urgent, became newly subject to public interest reporting.

Accordingly, all conducts including: sexual abuses against those aged below 13 or the disabled; taking a photograph of a person’s face or body, etc. and digitally editing, photoshopping, or distributing it without the consent of that person, causing a sense of sexual humiliation; draft dodging and evasion committed by persons liable for military service; and child abuse crimes committed by those working at child welfare institutions, schools or daycare centers, etc. will be subject to public interest reporting.

Anyone can report such conducts and receive protection including guarantee of confidentiality, personal safety protection, mitigation of culpability, and protection against disadvantageous measures.

The ACRC Chairperson Pak Un Jong said, “I expect there will be more courageous reports on such grave public interest infringements as the ‘Nth room’ case, which aroused huge public indignation, as the Amendments will strengthen the protection for reporters,” adding that “We will continue to strive to create an environment in which anyone can report without fear.”