[Oral Statement] Consideration of Outcome of UPR of the Republic of Korea
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) delivered an oral statement at the 53rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on July 7 at 3 pm(local time) on the adoption of the 4th Report of the Woking Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Republic of Korea.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a system in which UN member states periodically review other member states’ overall human rights situation every four and A half years and make recommendations on issues that need improvement. The government of the Republic of Korea was reviewed for the fourth time on January 26th and provided at the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council its concluding observations on a total of 263 recommendations received from UN member states. The Republic of Korea accepted 159 recommendations including those it had reserved upon adopting the Working Group report in January, partially accepted five, and took note of 99.
PSPD and FORUM-ASIA called on the Korean government to abolish the death penalty and the National Security Act, to enact a comprehensive anti-discrimination law, and to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW), which has been consistently recommended by many countries. In addition, while the Korean government has expressed its willingness to accept the recommendation, in practice there have been repeated bans on rallies in front of the Yongsan Presidential Office, bans on nighttime rallies, and restrictions on rallies during commute time for groups with a history of so-called “unlawful” protests. They urged the government to guarantee the right to assembly and protest in accordance with its international human rights obligations under the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to remove all unjustified restrictions on peaceful assembly. They also called on the government to develop a concrete and time-bound implementation plan in consultation with civil society.
PSPD has been an official civil society partner of the United Nations since 2004, with special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). PSPD has been actively engaging with UN bodies and conveying the voice of Korean civil society to the international community on issues such as democracy, human rights, peace, and development.
53rd regular session of the UN Human Rights Council
Item 6: Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of the Republic of Korea
Oral statement delivered by Hushitha Nandigham
On behalf of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy(PSPD)
7 July 2023
We make this statement together with our member organization, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD). We appreciate the government’s timely response to the UPR recommendations and the stated commitment to engage with civil society in the UPR process. However, we are disappointed by its limited engagement with civil society while also ignoring our key concerns.
Despite concerns expressed by numerous states, the Republic of Korea has merely noted recommendations to abolish the death penalty and the National Security Act.
In contradiction to the government’s support for the recommendations related to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, it has repeatedly issued notices to ban peaceful assemblies in front of the Presidential Office. This arbitrarily expansion of the grounds on which rallies can be banned under the Assembly and Demonstration Act has increased reports of excessive use of force by police against peaceful gatherings and criminal investigations against activists and workers for alleged violations under the Assembly and Demonstrations Act. Additionally, we are particularly concerned about the ongoing consultations between the government and ruling party seeking to amend the Assembly and Demonstration Act to restrict groups alleged to have engaged in ‘unlawful’ acts from organising commute-time rallies and to impose a ban on nighttime rallies.
We call on the government to guarantee the right to peaceful assembly in line with its international human rights obligations under the ICCPR and remove all undue restrictions on peaceful assembly.
Finally, we call on the government to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law that prohibits all forms of discrimination including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW) as reflected in the many recommendations that the government failed to accept.
FORUM-ASIA and PSPD call on the government to develop a concrete and time-bound implementation plan in consultation with civil society organizations. We look forward to further engagements with the government and with the international community to follow up on UPR recommendations.
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