By Kim Kyong Hyon, Faculty of Law, Kim Il Sung University
Today the DPRK is demonstrating its dignity to the world as a Juche-oriented socialist state centered on the popular masses, where beautiful dreams and ideals of the people are being realized under the outstanding and sophisticated leadership of the respected Comrade Kim Jong Un.
The people-oriented character of the DPRK as a socialist state centered on the popular masses is clearly manifested in the system of complaints and petitions.
The great leader Comrade Kim Jong Il said;
“Complaints represent the voice of the people, and every citizen has the right to make a complaint. When their interests are violated by any state organs or individual officials, the people are entitled to lodge a complaint to law-enforcement organs about it.”
Article 2 of the Complaint and Petition Law of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea defines a complaint as an act whereby a citizen requires the prevention of encroachment on his or her rights and interests in advance or the recovery of the violated rights and interests, and defines a petition as an act of proposing opinions to improve the work of institutions, enterprises, organizations and individual officials.
In a socialist society, which is a transitional one, the bureaucratic style of work of individual officials who are absorbed in the remnants of outdated ideas or have low practical qualifications and misinterpretations of the law may result in infringement upon the interests of the people and some backward and irrational order which lags behind the developing realities. These illegal and irrational elements, however small they may be, will seriously impede the work and life of the citizens.
The complaint is the proposal of citizens for the recovery of rights and interests that could have been or can be violated due to the transitional nature of a socialist society, and the petition is the opinion of the citizens regarding the improvement of the work of institutions, enterprises, organizations and civil servants, and the proposal of the citizens to satisfy their demands in life and their mental wishes.
Both complaints and petitions are the suggestions by the masses of the people regarding the activities of state organs and officials, but they differ from each other. A complaint is an act whereby citizens require the competent authorities to restore the legal rights and interests encroached upon by the illegal activities of state organs and civil servants or to prevent the danger of being infringed upon, whereas a petition is an act whereby citizens submit to the competent authorities for the purpose of improving the work of state organs or civil servants. A complaint mainly involves the restoration of infringed interests and rights, while a petition requires the improvement of irrational elements to be more reasonable. A petition is a requirement for the establishment of a new system and order in view of the rational improvement of state work, and for the change of an irrational existing order.
The complaint and petition system of the DPRK is the most popular one for the following grounds.
First, it is because the masses of the people directly lodge complaints.
The essence of a complaint and petition system is determined by the nature of a relevant social system. In a socialist society, where the masses are the masters of everything, a complaint is, in essence, the voice of the masses and the reflection of the people’s minds. Article 69 of the Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stipulates that “Citizens are entitled to submit complaints and petitions.” and Article 4 of the Complaint and Petition Law of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stipulates that complaints and petitions are the voices of the masses and reflection of the public minds.”
The provision stating that complaints and petitions are the voices of the masses and reflection of people’s minds means that the masses of people are the subjects of complaints and petitions. In a socialist society the masses of the people are directly in charge of complaints and petitions and they are free to complain and petition without any restrictions to protect their rights and interests and to improve the work of state bodies. The rights of the masses of the people, including the right to complaint and petition are ensured by the socialist state, and they exercise them substantially.
The idea that the masses of the people are directly responsible for complaints and petitions and they are the voice of the masses has been clarified for the first time in history from the Juche-oriented point of view. As a result, the question of the standpoint and attitude to be maintained by the officials of the socialist state organs in the process of receiving complaints submitted by the people has been clarified clearly and the state has been able to perform its mission and role more satisfactorily.
Next, the complaint and petition system of the DPRK is the most popular one because it does not have any restrictions or reservations in the submission of complaints and petitions. Whether the complaints and petition system of a particular society is a popular one or not mainly depends on whether there are restrictions or reservations in the provision of the right to complaints and petitions. What is most important in guaranteeing the right of citizens to petition is to put no restrictions on the content, form and date of submission of complaints and petitions. Under the socialist system in our country, citizens can submit complaints or petitions at any time according to their will, either in written or in oral form, regarding all kinds of contents.
First of all, the content of complaints and petitions are not restricted. Article 8 of the Complaint and Petition Law of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stipulates that “Citizens can submit complaints or petitions to institutions, enterprises, organizations and individual officials of up to the supreme power organ, as long as they are justified by rightful reasons and grounds.”
That no restrictions are imposed on the content of the complaints and petitions means that one can make complaints or petitions on all issues involving infringement upon the rights and interests of citizens and improvement of the work of the state organs.
Secondly, the form of complaints and petitions has no restrictions. Citizens in our country are provided with every convenience even in the form of complaints and petitions. Article 10 of the Complaint and Petition Law of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea specifies that “Citizens can make complaints or petitions directly to the relevant organs, enterprises or organizations either in oral form or in written form.”
All the citizens in the DPRK are provided with the right to complaint and petition either in oral or in written form by the popular complaint and petition system, which guarantees more satisfactorily the free expression of the will of the citizens concerning complaints and petitions.
Thirdly, there is no limit in the period of complaint and petition proposition. The DPRK Complaint and Petition Law does not fix the statute of limitation of complaints and petitions; the citizen may propose a complaint or a petition at any time. Citizens can exercise the right to complaint and petition at any time, if based on the complainable or petitionable facts, regardless of its period.
As seen above, the DPRK complaint and petition system substantially ensures the right to complaint and petition by placing no restrictions or reservation in the submission of a complaint or a petition.
Finally, the popular character of the DPRK complaint and petition system lies in the fact that it establishes legal obligation of institutions, enterprises and organizations to properly deal with complaints and petitions. Unlike the general state-administered legal relations, the legal relations of complaints and petitions are not created by the unilateral expression of the will of state organs, but by the exercise of the rights of the citizens and the creation of legal obligations of the institutions, enterprises and organizations to accept and handle them. In other words, it occurs by the voluntary proposal of complaints or petitions of citizens. Since the request of a complaint has been made, institutions, enterprises and organizations are under the legal obligation to accept, register and treat it fairly, and are held accountable if they fail to fulfill their obligations properly.
The Criminal Law of the DPRK defines the “criminal acts of obliteration and mistreatment of complaints or petitions” and the Law of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on Administrative Punishment of the defines the “act of violating the order of handling complaints and petitions”. The DPRK Criminal Law and the Law on Administrative Punishment defines as criminal or illegal acts the deliberate obliteration or mistreatment of complaints or petitions by officials of institutions, enterprises and organizations for no justifiable reasons, and anticipate the corresponding criminal and administrative responsibility for them depending on their seriousness.
This is a clear manifestation of the character of the DPRK complaint and petition system, which serves people, and a sure legal guarantee for further ensuring the rights of citizens to complaint or petition.
The DPRK will as ever take responsibility for the destiny of the people to the last and advance along the road of devoted service to the people under the outstanding leadership of the respected Comrade Kim Jong Un.