The Ministry of Justice issued the Fa-Lu-10500713700 Circular of December 12, 2016 (hereinafter, the “Circular”) to communicate that if a citizen needs to apply to review files in a non-administrative procedure, whether the government information applied for is archived or managed pursuant to the Archives Law and the Freedom of Government Information Law as well as the individual cases involved should be considered to determine if such files will be provided.
This Circular seeks to address the legal issue of whether a citizen may apply to review police interrogation transcripts or audio or video recordings prepared pursuant to an administrative disposition on the citizen in accordance with the Freedom of Government Information Law or other laws or regulations to serve as evidence for administrative remedies.
According to the Circular, Article 46, Paragraph 1 of the Administrative Procedure Law provides: “A party or an interested party may apply to an administrative agency for reviewing, transcribing, copying or photographing relevant materials or files; provided that the materials or files should be limited to those necessary for claiming or protecting his or her legal interest.” Therefore, the procedural requirements for application to administrative agencies to review files are stipulated to address the need of a party or interested party to claim or protect his or her legal interest in specific administrative procedures. It is required that such application be filed in the course of an administrative procedure or by the end of the statutory remedy period after the administrative procedure is concluded (hereinafter, the “Progression of the Administrative Procedure”). Therefore, it is only during the Progression of the Administrative Procedure that the people may apply to review or copy relevant materials or files in accordance with Article 46 of the Administrative Procedure Law. This Circular further points out that in case of application to review files not during the Progression of the Administrative Procedure, the Archives Law or the Freedom of Government Information Law will separately apply, depending on whether the files in which government information is sought are archived and managed pursuant to the Archives Law. Under Article 2, Subparagraph 2 of the Archives Law, a file refers to “literary or non-literary materials and attachments thereto which are archived and managed by various agencies pursuant to the administrative procedures.” As for whether an administrative agency should provide relevant materials or files applied for review or copy by a citizen should be determined by the administrative agency, depending on the materials applied for in specific cases, and whether the materials or files will be provided will depend separately on Article 46 of the Administrative Procedure Law, the Archives Law or Article 18 of the Freedom of Government Information Law.