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Int'l court ruling on Cambodian genocide good precedent for N.K. abuses: judge

Oct. 17, 2016 - 20:30 By 이현정
An international court handling Cambodia's mass killings in the 1970s could be a precedent for punishing the North Korean leadership for its crimes against humanity, a judge said Monday.

Meeting with reporters, Baik Kang-jin, the South Korean judge at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), said that the formation of an independent court like the ECCC would be a likely option to bring to justice those responsible for the human rights violations in the North.

"If a war crimes tribunal should be set up after the reunification (of the Korean Peninsula), it could be like the Cambodian model, which is an option that can also be accepted by those who have stakes in this issue," he told the press.

"The U.N. has already called for referring the crimes against humanity by the North Korean leadership to the International Criminal Court and setting up an independent court for (handling) them," he pointed out.

Baik joined the ECCC in 2015. The ECCC is a U.N. court dedicated to trying those responsible for the genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime during its rule from 1975-1979.

Touching on the court's possible location, Baik said that it could be established inside or near North Korean territory. He, moreover, pointed out that North Korean judges could participate in court proceedings with locals joining hands to come up with solutions to the human rights issues.

Baik was in Seoul to attend an international symposium. The forum was hosted by the Supreme Court under the main theme "Challenges from the 4th Industrial Revolution and Responses: the Future of the Judiciary."

During the interview, he claimed that judges should stay "human" in the era of the fast-paced industrial revolution, stressing the importance of their "creativity and sensitivity" -- two unique features machines cannot possess.

He also warned that judges who fail to respond to the fourth industrial revolution will, sooner or later, "die out."

The fourth industrial revolution refers to ongoing technological innovation through the fusion of various cutting-edge technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

"Machines are already capable of reading charts better than humans, and computers are better in writing sports articles, and in the United States, machines are more accurate in analyzing existing data and judicial precedents and predicting rulings," he said.

"The time may come when it is good for (judges) to leave the work of analyzing existing data and precedents to the machines. Then, human judges should play a creative and sensitive role," the judge added.

The ECCC judge, then, added that the general populace should be given wider access to the database of past court rulings so that they could utilize them to find solutions to their legal disputes or accelerate their research with the use of big data applications.

"If we give the big data of court rulings to scholars, they could put forward solutions to disputes such as civil lawsuits," he said.  

Entering judicial service in 1994, Baik has worked in local courts for some two decades. (Yonhap)