E/CN.4/2005/NGO/303–March 3, 2005

11월 24th, 2010 | Posted by admin in 4. UN reports on Republic of Korea

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Sixty-first session
Item 11 (g) of the provisional agenda

CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE QUESTIONS OF:
CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION TO MILITARY SERVICE

Conscientious objectors in the Republic of Korea
1. In spite of the continued efforts of the Commission with regard to the recognition of the right
of everyone to have conscientious objection to military service, we still remains in deep concern
about the denial of the right to conscientious objection in the Republic of Korea. As outlined in
our written statements to the previous sessions of the Commission [E/CN.4/2003/NGO/25,
E/CN.4/2002/NGO/126], it is estimated that every year about 700 young people eligible for a
military draft are sent to prison owing to their refusal to bear arms on grounds of their
convictions. Most of conscientious objectors in the Republic of Korea are Jehovah’s Witnesses
while the number of conscientious objectors with non-religious motives has been continuously
increasing. In 2004, Seok-min Kim, Jin Choi, Won-pyo Lee and Jae-seong Lim declared their
conscientious objection on account of their antiwar conviction and pacifism.
2. As of 15 January 2005, total 817 conscientious objectors are imprisoned in the Republic of
Korea. The number of conscientious objectors in prison is set to rise to over 1,000 considering
the situation that the cases of subjecting conscientious objectors to imprisonment have been
sharply increasing since the decision of the Constitutional Court was given in August 2004 that
the provision of the Military Service Act, under which conscientious objectors have been
punished, is not inconsistent with the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as laid
down in the Constitution.
3. In its statement before the 60th session of the Commission under agenda item 11, the
government of the Republic of Korea stated that it would continue to make efforts to explore
various possible ways to address the issue of conscientious objection to military service. The
position of the concerned authorities in the Republic of Korea, however, has been hardly
improved. In July 2004, on the cases of Myung-jin Choi and Yeo-bum Yoon, the Supreme Court
found them guilty under the Military Service Act stating that the freedom of conscience shall not
precede the obligation of national defense in a divided situation of the Korean peninsula. The
individual complaints of Myung-jin Choi and Yeo-bum Yoon are now under consideration of the
Human Rights Committee, a monitoring body of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR). As mentioned above, in August 2004, the Constitutional Court ruled
that Article 88(1) of the Military Service Act, under which conscientious objectors are punished
as draft dodgers, is not in violation of the Constitution, while there were separate opinions
recognizing the need of alternative services for conscientious objectors and advising lawmakers
to adopt legislative measures as requested.
4. Meanwhile, in November 2004, twenty-two members of the National Assembly proposed a
revised bill of the Military Service Act for the purpose of introducing an alternative for
conscientious objectors, and ten members of Democratic Labor Party also suggested the related
bill. The bills, however, have been stalled without any further constructive discussion. The
National Human Rights Commission, which has a mandate to provide relief measures for the
victims of human rights violations and to recommend the government to fully observe
international human rights law, has also been silent over the situation where hundreds of people
are criminalized due to the exercise of their legitimate right to conscientious objection, which is
universally recognized in the international human rights instruments.
5. At this juncture, we want to recall that the Commission in its resolution 2004/35 called upon
States that have not yet done so to review their current laws and practices in relation to
conscientious objection to military service in the light of Commission resolution 1998/77. We
also note with concern that the government of the Republic of Korea, even as a member of the
Commission, has not provided any related information to the Office of the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) with regard to making a concerted efforts to address
the issue by analyzing the existing practices.
6. It is clear that more and more young people will become victims of violations of human rights
regarding conscientious objection. In light of this, we strongly urge the Government of the
Republic of Korea, which is a member of the Commission and a party to the ICCPR, to:
(a) Recognize the right to conscientious objection to military service at domestic level, not
only at international level and immediately stop criminalizing conscientious objectors by
providing various forms of alternative services;
(b) Take further active initiatives in raising awareness among Korean society on the right to
conscientious objection, not sitting and waiting as a bystander for a social consensus to be
reached;
(c) Fully and substantively cooperate with the OHCHR and submit relevant materials on the
current laws and practices in relation to the recognition and implementation of the right to
conscientious objection to military service;
(d) Invite the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief in order for him to
investigate the violations of human rights on conscientious objection in the Republic of
Korea, and extend a standing invitation to all thematic special procedures of the
Commission.
7. Furthermore, we call on the Commission to:
(a) Pay sincere attention to the human rights violations committed in the countries which have
not yet recognized the right to conscientious objection to military service;
(b) Continuously work on the possible monitoring mechanisms, further to the preparation of
the compilation and analytic report of best practices, to make sure the effective
implementation of the right to conscientious objection to military service.

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