This statement and presentation are made for the 25th session of Human Rights Council held in March 2014, Geneva.
This information includes the situation of human rights defenders in South Korea, as well as some current issues that Minbyun dealt with. In particular, the oral statement can be available at the UN Human Rights Council’s website as below.
MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society
5F, Sinjeong 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 http://minbyun.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations
25th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Item 3: Promotion and Protection of all Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Oral Statement delivered by Ms. Jeanie Kim on behalf of MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society
Thank you, Mr. President. MINBYUN appreciates the report of the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Margaret Sekaggya, on her recent visit to the Republic of Korea (A/HRC/55/Add.1). In particular, we share the Special Rapporteur’s concerns over the government’s abuse of certain laws to limit the activities of human rights defenders in the Republic of Korea.
Madam Sekaggya, as noted in your report, the National Security Act has, on several instances, been arbitrarily applied to limit the work of human rights defenders, especially when exercising their right to freedom of opinion and expression. The number of cases being charged under the violation of the Act significantly increased from 64 in 2007 to 112 in 2012, yet it remains unclear how these allegations constitute as threats to national security. We note with concern that this application of the National Security Act discourages defenders from expressing their dissenting opinions from the government.
We call for this Council’s attention to the civil lawsuit filed on May 2013 by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) against lawyers, members of MINBYUN, representing their client who was accused of espionage. The lawyers have alleged that the main witness to the case was forced to give false testimony after facing threats from the NIS, to which the NIS responded by filing a compensation for defamation. This not only limits works of defenders but also violates the fundamental right to access to justice.
Madam Sekaggya, we share your continued concerns over recent activities of the government and corporations abusing the laws to apply financial and legal pressure to labour unions and their members in a way to restrict their legitimate activities. As you pointed out in the report, the right to strike has been unduly restricted in the country. Labour dispute is narrowly defined under the current labour law that strikes against lay-offs, factory closure, or relocation amount to illegal activities subject to retaliation by the government and corporations. There have been several cases where both the government and corporations applied financial pressure on the unions. In 2009, SsangYong Motor and the government filed a compensation suit against the SsangYong Motor union executives and members who went on strike to oppose the layoffs. The court ordered the provisional seizure of 2 million USD of the property of union members. We call on the government to cease such a chilling effect on labour rights defenders by imposing monetary sanctions to union members.
Thank you for your attention, Mr. President.
 Yonhap News Agency, Prosecution launches probe into complaints in spy forgery scandal, 5 March 2014, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2014/03/05/34/0301000000AEN20140305001800315F.html. In this case, the NIS submitted the entry and departure records between the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of the accused as evidence, however the documents were later confirmed by the Chinese authority to be forged. This case of submitting forged evidence is now being investigated by the prosecution.