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주제어: 과거청산, 국가범죄, 배상, 시효, 집단살해


On the Special Act concerning Reparations

for State Crimes


Lee, Jae-Seung

Professor, Kookmin Univ.



The transition from the authoritarian government to democracy in Korea started in the later 1990s. Generally speaking, the transition is not an abrupt break-off from the past, but a gradual one. More than ten special acts have been made since 1990, aiming at purging the past of the authoritarian regime. Among them, however, only two acts - Act on Kwangju compensations and Act on democracy movement compensation- are supposed to compensate for the victims by power abuses. This paper suggests that the government should introduce a special all-encompassing act on reparations for all kinds of state crime.

The Korean modern history has seen massive and various atrocities of state power. The most serious of them is the genocide committed by the government authorities during the Korean War. It is estimated that the Korean Government slaughtered over half million of the innocent and unarmed civilians for national security and defence during the war.

Some scholars have refused the idea of reparation for the gross human rights violations, because they think that the government can not afford to such reparations. It is suggested, however, that the government should make partial, if not full, reparations for each victim within the range of financial capability. Futhermore, this paper argues that the Korean Government should pay compensation for the victims of all kinds of state crime. In this regard, one can find some precedents in Germany, South Africa, Chile, Brazil, Hungary and Taiwan.

This paper suggests a special act on reparation for gross human rights violations as follows.

First, the independent reparation commission is more appropriate and efficient in the purge process than the judiciary, because the latter would hold fast to the lawyer-like methods with regard to burden or degree of proof in causation and liability.

Second, the special act should entitle the victims or their bereaved families to claim a compensation independently of the Civil Code and State Compensation Act.

Third, the act should classify types of state crimes in detail and differentiates amounts of reparation for victims according to the period of occurrence.



Key words: genocide, purge of the past, reparation, state crime, statutory limitation

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