Additional Information On Joint NGO Urgent Appeal
Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council
25 JULY 2008
MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society, PSPD-People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Korea Women’s Association United (KWAU), Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet, NGOs in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the Untied Nations, GONGGAM-Korean Public Interest Lawyers Group, SARANGBANG Group for Human Rights, , MINKAHYUP Human Rights Group
In association with
Busan Human Rights Center, Committee of Sexual Minority of KDLP, CHINGUSAI, Lesbian Counseling Center, Committee to Support Imprisoned Workers, Dasan Human Rights Center, Disability and Human Rights in Action, Human Rights Center for Disability, Human Rights Solidarity for New Society, Korea Research & Consulting Institute on poverty, protesting against poverty and discrimination Solidarity for Human Rights, Migrant Human Rights Solidarity, The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, Ulsan Human Rights SolidarityContact Information Mr. Dong-Hwa LEE / International Coordinator MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society 5F, Shinjeong B/D, 1555-3, Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea, P.O. 137-070 Tel : +(82)(2) 522-7284 Fax : + (82)(2) 522-7285 E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
1. A Government Irresponsible for Its Violence
Amnesty International’s Norma Kang Muico, the watchdog’s East Asia representative held a press conference last July 18 after two weeks of inspection on the Korean Police’ infringement on human rights that happened recently in dealing with recent candlelit protests against the U.S. beef imports. However, the Police claimed that many of the charges are not true or written partially to defend only one party and demanded corrections. The same day, Kang Muico rejected the demand by saying that she is sure that the result of her inspection is accurate. On 21 of July, the commissioner general of the National Police Agency, Eoh Cheong-su resisted by saying, “If Amnesty International does not accept the Police’s demands for correction, the Police will consider responding with lawful measures.” The Police mentioning “lawful measures” and “partiality” when the final report has not even come out is exaggerated and emotional. Especially, by ignoring a human rights expert of a highly esteemed international organization, the Korean Police showed that it has no qualms about suppressing basic human rights such as “freedom of speech” and “freedom of assembly” The above responses of the Police show its intention to avoid the responsibility for the violence it committed during protests, to exaggerate the violence of the protesters, and to justify the Police’ violence.
Also, during an Urgent Question and Answer Session on the U.S. beef imports at the National Assembly on July 18, Won Se-hun, the minister of Ministry of Public Administration and Security claimed, “There is only one obvious case of Police’s excessive suppression, which is the case of Ms. Narae Lee, a student at Seoul National University.” He also said that the candlelit assemblies are “an anti-Government movement that has been elaborately planned from the beginning of the year.”
These remarks by the commissioner general of the National Police Agency and the minister of Ministry of Public Administration and Security reveal that the Government is distorting the nature of candlelit assemblies, which are a manifestation of civil disobedience against implementation of failed Government policies.
2. The Government Pressing for Severe Sanctions against Internet Users
On 22 of July, The Korean Communications Commission (KCC), the country’s telecommunications and broadcasting regulator, issued a “Comprehensive Measure for Internet Information Protection,” and said that it is considering punishment on web portals if they do not comply with its order to delete contents that are reported to be libelous. Also the KCC said that it will amend a law so that not only the portal users, but also the portal managers will be responsible for the protection of private information. The same day, Justice Minister Kim Kyung-han introduced “Cyber Defamation Law,” saying that “Slanderous content, groundless rumors, and threats against certain corporations are overwhelming in cyberspace, and the citizens are highly concerned.” However, the article 311 of the current Criminal Law already defines, “A person who slanders a person is to be imprisoned less than a year or to pay fine less than 2000000won.” This current law is enough to punish libel in cyberspace, so there is no need to add such a law. At the moment, the Prosecutor’s Office’s is conducting investigations against internet users who participated in boycott movement against certain newspapers that have been reporting biased news on the U.S beef and candlelit assemblies. In this context, “Cyber Defamation Law” and “Comprehensive Measure for Internet Information Protection” can be only interpreted as inventions to meet the needs of the Government. Freedom of expression on the internet space is now being severely threatened, since the Government organizations including the Korean Communications Commission and the Justice Department are trying their best to legalize a control over Internet opinions from many different angles.
3. Suppression against Assemblies with the Purpose of Arresting
17 of July is a day for celebrating the Constitution of Korea. Lat July 17, a thousand of citizens participated in candlelit protests, hoping that the spirit of the Constitution would be respected. The citizens continued to protest and march after 0 A.M. The Police shot water containing florescent material against the crowd with a water canon so that it would be able to track down and arrest the participants. This proves that the Police’s intention is not to disperse the crowd, but to arrest them.
4. The Police Sued the People’s Association
On July 22, Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency announced that it would sue People’s Association against Mad Cow Diseases, Korean Solidarity of Progressive Movement, the PSPD, and 14 executives who are under arrest for $ 300000 in damages, saying that it have been damaged by continuous candlelit protests since May 2nd. The Police claimed, “These people have been hosting Candlelit assembly everyday, occupied driveways without permission, injured policemen, and damaged Police buses, radios, cameras, and other equipment.” At the moment, the Police is neglecting injured protesters who need treatment and is not executing punishment on policemen who perpetrated violence against citizens.