PSPD English Newsletter, July 2016
- 2016.08.03 (10:24:11)
People Power! This month of the PSPD
How hot will it be this summer? The elderly living in a back room alone would have to fight with hot summer. I hope no villages suffer from heavy rain and flood. Everyone stays healthy and has less trouble during the summer. Getting strength from your support, PSPD has carried out various projects in June, beginning of the summer.
Suggested bills and policies for the 20th National Assembly
PSPD has been active to make the 20th National Assembly get closer and care for the people. On 26 May right before it’s opening, PSPD has organized urgent agendas and published 69 bills to enact and 15 policies for the 20th National Assembly to deal with during the term. It held a press conference on 30 May, the first day of the 20th National Assembly in front of the National Assembly emphasizing five the most urgent agendas as follow.
△ Secure the term and authority of the Special Investigation Committee for Sewol Ferry in order to find the enough truth △ Hold a hearing to find the truth for humidifier sanitizer disaster and improve the system to prevent △ Abolish NIS reform and Terror Prevention Act △ Reform the Housing Lease Protection Act to ease the burden of housing cost and stabilize the housing including setting the upper limit of deposit and rental fee △ Hold a hearing for Parents Union Gate in respect to the Blue House’s control over far-right organizations.
Five agendas to make the National Assembly get closer to the People were also presented.
“Assembly and Demonstration must be held where a counterpart can see and hear”
The current law on assembly and demonstration was made during Park Jeong-hee administration. It seems made to regulate rather than secure the right to assemble and demonstrate. Representatively, the Article 11 prohibits assembly and demonstration within 100 meters radius from boundary of the National Assembly, 100 meters from the Blue House, 100 meters from all levels of courts, 100 meters from the residence of the Prime Minister where in fact, have to pay more attention to the voice of the people. Even small rallies less than 10 people and silent demonstrations are not allowed. During Park Jeong-hee administration, demonstrations within 100 meters from provincial governments and railway stations were also prohibited. Should we say ‘what a relief!‘ that those were abolished now?
PSPD has set up an internal <Task Force to secure the freedom of Assembly and Demonstration> for the purpose of responding more systematically and with consistency to infringements on the freedom to Assemble and Demonstrate. The first goal is to reform the Article 11 that it presented <In which cases the Article 11(places prohibited) has applied?> on 20 June and held a discussion on the next day in cooperation with a lawmaker Park Ju-min and Lee Jae-jeong.
As far as it is peaceful, no nations like UK, Japan, US and Canada do not prohibit assemblies. Assembly and demonstration must be held where a counterpart can see and hear and we will try to make it happen.
Delivered the status of human rights infringements in Korea to the UN Human Rights Council
UN special rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association has visited Korea in January. PSPD and human rights organizations have explained the situation of infringements on the freedom of assembly and association and requested an attention to the UN Human Rights Council. After the return, the special rapporteur conducted an investigation and presented an official report on Korea on 17 June at the 32nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council. The report has listed cases of government’s oppressions over citizens’ assemblies and commented that “It would undermine everything that the Republic of Korea has achieved to date”.
PSPD has formed a delegation with representatives of human rights organizations in Korea and participated in the 32nd session which was held from 13 to 17 June in Geneva. Especially, the delegation thoroughly explained the case of Baek Nam-ki who has been struck by merciless water cannon during the rally last November and still in coma to UN special rapporteur and authorities. In front of UN headquarters in Geneva, they held a rally demanding to ban the use of water cannon in assemblies and demonstrations and urging for release of Han Sang-gyun a president of the Korea Confederation of Trade Union (KCTU) and KCTU members who have been arrested for organizing a demonstration.
Meal treats, gifts and cash contribution for congratulation or condolence, the upper limits set to ₩30,000, ₩50,000, ₩100,000 respectively
The law to prohibit asking unjust favors, known as ‘Kim Young-ran Act’ will be enforced from September. It has passed the National Assembly last March and detailed enforcement ordinance would be finalized soon. Since the notice for enactment is released that upper limits public servants can receive are set to ₩30,000 for meal treats, ₩50,000 for gifts and ₩100,000 for cash contribution for congratulation or condolence, corporates, farm and dairy industry and food and beverage industry have raised their voice of opposition. They ask to raise limits and exclude farm and dairy products from a gift list for public servants insisting that domestic consumption would shrink and producers would be threatened. Not only their argument is exaggerated but also efforts to root out bribery and corruptions will fail if their demands are accepted.
On 21 June, one day before advance notice for a new bill was closed, PSPD has met vice chairperson of the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission at his office in Sejong City and asked not to step back. In this meeting, Young Korean Academy, YMCA Korea and other organizations which have worked for anti-corruption have joined. Online petition is in progress to sustain amount limits and not to allow exceptions since 13 June. It will continue until the cabinet council confirms the enforcement ordinance. You may participate in online citizen petition campaign at PSPD website.
Search and seizure on PSPD members, must have surprised you.
On 16 June, the Intelligent Crime Team of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency directed by the Supreme Prosecutors Office conducted search and seizure on Ahn Jin-geol, a co-secretary general of PSPD, Lee Jae-geun, a head of Policy Planning division and civil society activists who worked for the General Election Network of Citizens. It has insisted that the Network violated the Election Law by conducting and releasing a result of a survey without registering to the National Election Commission. The survey was to ‘Select 10 worst candidates’ and the authority regarded it as opinion poll which enabled to predict political party support rate and winners
Furthermore, it has argued that ‘loser tour’ press conference was also a violation. They were held to inform a candidate of being listed in defeated candidates outside their offices but names of candidates were not shown on banners and pickets complying to the law.
What they insist are absurd because they are not facts. The National Election Commission officers were present at ‘loser tour’ press conference sites. Any potential violations were consulted in advance. There was no warning on violation of the law from the authority until press conference was completed.
One fortunate thing is that PSPD activists and lawyers protected materials and information unrelated to General Election Network activities including PSPD private resources and member information when the police searched desks and computers of Ahn and Lee. PSPD will stop unfair and unreasonable investigation of the prosecutors and the police. Even if prosecuted, it will do the best to get a decision of innocence at court. Activities of voters should not be regarded as illegal followed by punishment. Furthermore, PSPD will take this occasion as a chance to reform the Election Law for Public Officers which oppresses voters’ actions.