By Lee Kyung-min
Starting next month, those convicted of sex crimes against children under 19 will not be able to land job at kindergartens, schools and medical institutions. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said Wednesday a revised law set to take effect July 17 will strengthen the employment standards at facilities where supervisory and authority figures maintain close contact with children every day.
The revision, which had been under review for about two years, follows a Constitutional Court ruling that declared unconstitutional a law that banned such offenders from landing jobs for 10 years. The court recognized the need for criminal punishment of the offenders, but said an outright 10-year ban without consideration of the degree of severity of their crimes was too excessive a punishment and infringed upon their right to choose a profession. The ruling that took immediate effect allowed about 40,000 convicts to seek and land jobs without any restrictions, setting off a chain of concerns from parents.
"We expect the new measure will help alleviate concerns from parents with young children," the ministry said in a statement. "The ministry will make more effort to promptly notify relevant institutions, thereby protecting children against sex crimes."
Offenders who received over three years of imprisonment will receive a five-year ban. Offenders who had been imprisoned for three years and under will receive a three-year ban. A one-year ban is due for those who were fined. Individuals standing trial for suspected sexual offences will face up to a 10 year-ban, following a court ruling that will include a verdict and a ruling on the period of the ban. Those whose verdicts are delivered after July 17 will be banned from landing jobs at universities, student counseling centers, child welfare centers and service facilities for special needs students.
A government inspection team comprised of officials of the ministry, municipal governments and relevant authorities will conduct on-site inspection into the facilities between July and September.
The measure is in line with a similar initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Justice which said last month it would revise the law to allow victims to file a civil suit against perpetrators within three years after they turn 19 in an effort to seek rigorous accountability for underage victims. The ministry said they will be better able to seek compensation against perpetrators, following its move to revise the civil law to extend the statute of limitations governing such offences. If the victim cannot immediately identify the perpetrator, the period will be extended to 10 years.
The current law states the statute of limitations is three years if victims _ or their parents or legal guardians _ fail to seek redress measures within three years after they become aware that the incident occurred and know the identity of the perpetrator. The statute of limitations is also set for 10 years after the date the incident occurred. Under such laws, the ministry said, no legal redress is available to victims seeking compensation for sex crimes that occurred when they were underage, if their parents failed to take any legal measures despite knowledge of the offence for three years.