South Korean NGOs Coalition for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
- Int. Solidarity
- 2008.05.08 (15:01:00)
- 첨부 1
UPR on South Korea: Korean Government Provided Unclear and Misguiding Answers
DPRK and the U.S. Stand United against National Security Law
Recommendations by Member States on Key Human Rights Issues in South Korea including the Abolition of Death Penalty and the Protection of Human Rights of Migrant Workers
1. The UN Human Rights Council held its interactive dialogue for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on the Republic of Korea on Wednesday, 7 May 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland. The UPR is a new human rights mechanism established by the UN Human Rights Council to review the overall fulfillment of human rights obligations and commitments by each Member State of the United Nations. The interactive dialogue was made on the key human rights issues in the Republic of Korea including death penalty, freedom of assembly, National Security Law, Discrimination Prohibition Bill, discrimination against persons with disabilities, migrant workers, migrant women of international marriage, conscientious objection to military service, violence against women and domestic violence, corporal punishment of children, and non-regular workers.
2. Numerous states recommended the abolition of death penalty in an immediate and timely manner. Reminding the fact that the 15th, 16th, and 17th National Assembly failed to pass the Bill for the abolition of death penalty, The United Kingdom asked if the Government has the intention to submit the Bill to the upcoming 18th National Assembly. Luxemburg enquired about the concrete measures that the Government has taken to bring public consensus for the abolition of death penalty. The Netherlands in its recommendation emphasized that the Bill should be adopted by the upcoming National Assembly. However the Government delegation avoided providing a concrete timetable for the abolishment of death penalty noting that the issue is still in the process of creating public consensus. (Note: The issue of death penalty was raised by 11 states which are France, Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Australia, Turkey, Luxemburg and Denmark.)
3. States addressed in multiple occasions questions and recommendations regarding the rights of migrant workers reflecting their concern for the protection of migrant workers’ rights as it appeared in the recent series of crackdowns targeting the leaders of the Migrant Workers’ Trade Union (MTU). The UPR working group urged the Government to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICMW). The Philippines noted that migrant workers’ rights should be respected regardless of their legal status and requested the Government to make substantive efforts to protect the rights of undocumented workers. The Korean delegation avoided providing concrete answers to those questions by merely reaffirming that the Government is doing all its effort to counteract discrimination against migrant workers. (Note: The issue of migrant workers was raised by 11 states: Algeria, Indonesia, the Philippines, Egypt, Bangladesh, Peru, Pakistan, Mexico, Canada, and Denmark.)
4. Concerns about the retrogression of the freedom of assembly and demonstration since the debut of Lee Myung-Bak government were also raised. Algeria, Brazil and Canada addressed the problem of excessive repression against demonstrators and asked if the Government respects the freedom of assembly and demonstration in a substantial manner. The Korean delegation, contrary to the recent statement by the Justice Minister during a policy report to the President mentioning the wide attribution of immunity for police officers when arresting demonstrators, replied that “the Government is taking strict measures to respect the freedom of assembly and to avoid any excessive restriction of the right.”
5. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the United States of America and the United Kingdom unanimously recommended the revision or the abolishment of the National Security Law. The UN Human Rights Committee (Committee on Civil and Political Rights) had repeatedly recommended that the National Security Law is in violation of the ICCPR. The United Kingdom recommended that “National Security Law could be integrated into Criminal Law or be revised to meet the international standards.” The United States addressed the need for reform by indicating the “possibility of abuse due to the abstract wordings.” In the context of the expanded application of National Security Law through communication censorship, the fact that DPRK and the U.S. are taking a common position against the National Security Law has a particular significance.
6. The Korean delegation presented the submission of the Discrimination Prohibition Bill to the National Assembly as a major human rights achievement. Member States, including France, Czech Republic and Netherlands, commended the submission but raised also doubts about the effectiveness of the Discrimination Prohibition Bill which excludes important elements such as sexual orientation.
7. In parallel with the criticism by Korean public on the Resident Registration System following the Auction case where personal information of over 10,000,000 individuals was hacked, Canada recommended that “Resident Registration System should be used in strictly limited circumstances such as public service.” Korean human rights groups have constantly urged the revision of related laws to prevent violation of privacy and abuse for national intelligence activities, however the Korean delegation remained silent even vis-à-vis the questions of the working group.
8. Part of the answers provided by the Government delegation clearly reflected the lack of understanding and awareness of the Korean government on human rights. Concerning the question by the Czech Republic inquiring if the high level of suicide in places of detention is due to torture or ill treatment, the Korean delegation avoided the heart of the questions by noting that “suicide rate in places of detention are not seriously different from the overall suicide rate in South Korea” and pointing out that authorities “are controlling potential suicides based on medical records of inmates.” The delegation neglected the critical fact that South Korea is with the highest rate of suicide among all OECD members. Concerning Slovenia’s question on the current criminal code and Special Law on Sexual Violence defining sexual crime as a crime requiring a complaint from the victim, the delegation expressed the Government’s intention not to abolish the provision by explaining that sexual crime investigation at the absence of victim’s complaint can be the source of violation of privacy or personal defamation.
9. The South Korean NGOs Coalition for the UPR announced that “key human rights issues of South Korean society were identified and reaffirmed through the questions and recommendations of the UPR working group and observer states.” The NGOs criticized the Korean Government for providing unclear and misguiding answers as well as neglecting the main purpose of the UPR to improve the human rights situations of States by reviewing the overall fulfillment of their human rights obligations and commitments. They also strongly requested the Government to acknowledge the seriousness of key human rights issues as hereby addressed and to provide, prior to the Council Session in June 2008, concrete policy measures and sincere commitments based on the various recommendations provided by the UPR working group.