Why Can't Protective Measures Protect Victims?1)
On January 2, a man stabbed and killed his ex-spouse who had been provided police protection. The man had been punished for using violence against her in August 2022, and the victim had asked the police after the incident for protective measures. The Crime Victim Protection Act can be requested for a victim, as well as for the victim's blood relatives and siblings, who are likely to be harmed by the perpetrator. Through this, the police are taking protective measures by classifying them into "very high," "high," and "normal" categories according to the degree of danger. Protection measures such as patrols which are aimed at victims, smartwatches, and temporary accommodation will be provided. A smartwatch on the wrist alerts the police to go to help the victim immediately when pressed in an emergency. However, last year, six victims died even though they had smartwatches as a protective measure against stalking. In this respect, Lee Soojung, a professor of Kyonggi University, said, "Even if victims are given a smartwatch, they may lose their lives before the police arrive at the scene. It is necessary to actively monitor the perpetrators in addition to victim protection." She emphasized the limitation of the smartwatch and the need to prevent crimes against crime victims by closely observing criminals.
In this regard, the police are taking steps against the perpetrators to protect victims from stalking crimes. This is implemented by dividing them into emergency measures, urgency measures, and provisional measures, depending on the police's judgment. Accordingly, stalking offenders can be ordered to stay more than 100 meters from the victim's living area, not make contact with the victim, or be detained for up to a month. In addition, if the provisional measures are violated, a fine shall be up to 10 million won. However, based on the rulings on the application of the stalking punishment law from October 2021 to September 28, 2022, about 75 percent of offenders violated it. This implies that the follow-up management toward perpetrators is not well performed, and the punishment imposed if the measure is violated is not severe. Meanwhile, to take such measures, a request must be made to the court and the prosecutor. Unlike urgency measures, which are approved by the court after the fact, provisional measures are not implemented unless they are approved at the request of the prosecutor. According to Kwon Insook of the Democratic Party of Korea, 56.8 percent of police claims for detention were rejected from October 2021 when the stalking punishment law was enacted to July 2022. In other words, even if the police try to take measures, it is difficult to prevent stalking crimes because the judicial institution's rejection rate is high. On December 28 last year, the Act on the Prevention of Stalking and Protection of Victims passed the plenary session of the National Assembly. However, since the law focuses on supporting and protecting stalking victims, it seems that there is a limit to preventing crimes by imposing sanctions on perpetrators.
1) Lee Hudo, ""Women Who Were Murdered Even if They Wore a 'Smartwatch'..." Is It Effective to Prevent Crime?", Weekly Chosun, October 10, 2022