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Cablegate: Ambassador's Visit to Supreme Prosecutors Office

VZCZCXYZ0006
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUL #0204/01 0410738
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 100738Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7023
INFO RUCNKOR/KOREA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SEOUL 000204

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO USTR R.BAE, B.TRICK, S.YOO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CMGT ECON KIPR KTIA PHUM PREL KS
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S VISIT TO SUPREME PROSECUTORS OFFICE

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Visiting the Supreme Prosecutors Office
(SPO) on February 4, the Ambassador praised the SPO for its
cooperation in joint law enforcement projects, and for
Korea's rapid development in rule of law. She encouraged the
SPO to support Korea's accession to the Hague Convention on
International Parental Child Abduction, the development of
protocol regarding Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties, and for
the continued cooperation on human trafficking. END SUMMARY.

Courtesy Call
-------------

2. (SBU) In a courtesy call with Prosecutor General Kim
Joon-gyu, Ambassador Stephens expressed gratitude for the
cooperation between the SPO and American law enforcement and
urged greater cooperation going forward. She encouraged ROKG
officials to work with U.S. counterparts to develop a
protocol regarding Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT).
The lack of a coherent MLAT framework sometimes hampers legal
cooperation between the United States and Korea. According
to ICE Attache, there is a pending invitation from U.S.
Department of Justice (USDOJ) to Ministry of Justice (MOJ)
officials to visit the U.S. for this purpose.

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3. (SBU) Prosecutor General Kim explained how the SPO has
begun to assist other Asian countries, such as Vietnam and
China, in the areas of rule of law and in law enforcement
efforts. Kim is the vice-chairman of the International
Association of Prosecutors, representing Asia, and in this
role has fostered exchanges between Korean prosecutors and
other Asian countries, including the Middle East. However,
Kim requested American assistance in these efforts in order
to maximize Korea's potential as an exporter of rule of law
expertise, particularly in the area of narcotics enforcement.

Roundtable Discussion
---------------------

4. (SBU) In a roundtable discussion with 20 high-ranking
officials of the SPO, Ambassador Stephens expressed gratitude
to the SPO attendees and reiterated the importance of rule of
law and cooperation between the U.S. and ROK. She praised
Korea for its aggressive attitude in fighting human
trafficking, which accounted for Korea's Tier 1 ranking in
the annual State Department Trafficking in Persons report.
She urged the SPO to continue to improve cooperation on the
issue. She also urged the SPO to support Korea's accession
to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of
International Parental Child Abduction. Prosecutor General
Kim promised to raise this point with his superiors at the
MOJ.

5. (SBU) During the discussion, the Ambassador fielded
questions on the U.S. perception of Korea's efforts in
enforcing intellectual property rights, on facilitating the
protocol behind extradition of fugitives, and on developing
Korea's fledgling DNA database. Ambassador Stephens praised
Korea's role in bolstering its copyright enforcement efforts,
leading to its removal from the Special 301 Watchlist in
2009. During her answers to the questions about extradition
protocol and DNA testing, she reiterated the need for
information exchange and her support for training programs
between the two countries.

Role of Supreme Prosecutors Office
----------------------------------

6. (SBU) The SPO is the highest prosecutorial office in Korea
and coordinates all other prosecutorial offices at the
district and municipal level. It also has the power of
investigatory review over all actions of the National Police.
The MOJ supervises the SPO, but the MOJ's oversight of the
SPO is restricted to policy-level guidance and strategy. For
example, MOJ can direct the SPO to concentrate its efforts on
reducing street crime or intellectual property-related
offenses. However, when conducting individual
investigations, the SPO is independent. Both the Supreme
Prosecutor General and the Minister of Justice are appointed
by the President and must be approved by the National
Assembly. The Prosecutor General serves a two-year term with
no reappointment.

7. (SBU) The SPO is divided into four tiers -- the SPO
itself, the High Prosecutors' Office, the District
Prosecutors' Office, and various branch offices. There is no
examination to enter the SPO. After graduating law school,
candidates must go through an application process. After
joining the SPO, prosecutors are eligible to apply for
judgeships, but in practice very few make this transition
(only 5-7 per year).

8. (SBU) In addition to prosecutorial responsibilities, the
SPO coordinates investigation of all major criminal
activities, from narcotics to organized crime, public
corruption, white-collar crime, and copyright violations.
The SPO is tasked with oversight of all investigatory efforts
by the police, and all police investigations must be
forwarded to the SPO upon conclusion for review before
proceeding to indictment. The SPO then determines whether
the police adequately investigated the case, with
consideration to due process and relevant laws and
regulations, and has the power to order a reinvestigation if
necessary.

9. (SBU) There exists a strong, synergistic working
relationship between the SPO and the local branches of the
DEA, FBI, and DHS/ICE. The SPO cooperates heavily with these
agencies on a wide range of activities from seizures of
heroin and methamphetamine precursor chemicals to human
trafficking to educational exchange programs that help Korean
law enforcement develop investigative skills and techniques.
Many SPO officials were educated in the United States and are
receptive to U.S. assistance.
STEPHENS

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