NGOs reveal findings of their fact finding mission in Seoul
8 August 2008 12:25 am


 FORUM ASIA and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) decided to conduct a fact-finding mission, consisting of four members, to South Korea from 21-24 July 2008 in the light of numerous reports of human rights violations since May.

The two regional human rights organisations consider the events recently occurring in South Korea of regional importance because South Korea is viewed as a benchmark for democracy and human rights in Asia. We believe that the decline of democracy and increase of human rights violations in South Korea would have an impact on the rest of the region.

The main focus of our mission has been to examine the situation of human rights defenders and the state of freedom of opinion and expression in the light of the rallies against the agreement between the United States and South Korea to lift US beef import restrictions.

It is especially significant for us to look into the situation of human rights defenders since this year is the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

The adoption of this declaration is important as it is viewed as a step towards the promotion and protection of the rights of human rights defenders because it outlines the responsibilities of states and non-state actors in protecting these persons’ rights.

During our mission this week, we met with eight non-governmental organisations (NGOs), 12 human rights defenders (e.g. lawyers, NGO workers, journalists, and medical workers), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT), and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK). We also attended the trial of a human rights defender, Ms. Yoon Hee-Sook.

We requested appointments with the Ministry of Justice and the National Police Agency. Because of the Ministry of Justice’s busy schedule, we were not able to meet them this week. There was no response to our request from the National Police Agency.

We also sent a request to the Seoul Detention Center to meet with four detainees, Mr. Ahn Jin-Geol, Mr. Hwang Soon-Won, Ms. Yoon Hee-Sook, and Mr. Moon Yong-Sik. The Seoul Detention Center refused our request.

Read the press statement further HERE.