PSPD and Minbyun jointly presented an oral statement on the violation of the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression in South Korea
- UN Advocacy
- 2009.06.11 (11:13:13)
The 11th Human Rights Council is held from June 2 to June 18 in Geneva. PSPD(People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy) and Minbyun(Lawyers for a Democratic Society) jointly presented an oral statement on the violation of the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression happening in south Korea under the Lee Myungbak's regime.
The statement included that
- the Ministry of National Defense designated several books as being subversive, and it dismissed a military judicial officer who was objected to the designation,
- the Lee’s administration introduced a system for real name identification on the net,
- the police seriously undermined the freedom of assembly and protest by carrying out over-orchestrated violence, and
- PSPD and Minbyun urged the UN dispatch the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression and give expert advice to the Lee Government.
11th session of the UN Human Rights Council
Item 4: General Debate
Oral Statement by MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society
and PSPD-People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
Thank you, Mr. President. MINBYUN and PSPD would like to call for the attention of this Council to the recent policies and measures taken by the Government of the Republic of Korea, which have seriously eroded the situation of the freedom of opinion and expression in the country.
Ban on the “Seditious” Books in the Military: On 22 July 2008, the Ministry of National Defense designated 23 books as seditious publications, alleging that those books are praising North Korea, anti-U.S. and anti-government or anti-capitalism. Seven military judicial officers filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court to decide on the constitutionality of the book-ban order made by the Ministry. While the complaint is still pending at the Court, on 19 March 2009, the Ministry of National Defence dismissed two of those military judicial officers who filed the constitutional complaint, claiming that the officers had disgraced the military. This disciplinary measure by the Ministry only shows that their freedom of opinion and expression has been further jeopardized with the infringement on their legitimate right to petition.
Tightened Censorship on Internet Users with ‘Real-Name Registration’ system: The application of the Act on the Promotion of Telecommunications Network Utilization and Data Protection has been expanded as of 1 April 2009, requiring all internet websites with more than 100,000 visitors per day subject to the real-name registration system. This real-name registration system has brought serious concern about its adverse impact on the freedom of opinion and expression, since it has been abused as a tool to place dissidents under surveillance and thus to silence criticism against government policies.
Grave Restriction on the Right to Assembly and Demonstration: The Prime Minister declared on 20 May 2009 that the Government would not allow any assembly or demonstration in the city centres, which would heavily interfere with transport or are believed to turn violent. However, the arbitrary and selective process of permit granting is excluding those legitimately exercising of the right to freedom of assembly. Furthermore, recently there have been several cases in which the police arrested participants indiscriminately at the site of demonstrations without defining any specific violation of law or regulations. At the May Day rally of this year, around 200 individuals were taken to the police. Moreover, on 14 May 2009, the police have even put down the press conference organized by a group of human rights defenders in front of the Seoul Central Prosecutor’s Office, who voiced criticism over the government policies regarding the forced eviction in Yongsan. We strongly urge the Government of the Republic of Korea to stop all repression against the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly.
Finally, Mr. President, noting that the Republic of Korea extended its standing invitation to the Special Procedures mandate-holders of this Council, we strongly ask the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression to conduct his country visit to the Republic of Korea and give expert advice to the Government with a view to improving the relevant human rights situation in the country. Thank you, Mr. President.