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[Joint Statement]20th anniversary of the NHRCK
Name 관리자 Date 2021-11-30 Hits 342
<Joint Statement>
Only innovation visiting the human rights field will keep the National Human Rights Commission of Korea out of place.
- Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea
It has been 20 years since the National Human Rights Commission (hereinafter referred to as the Human Rights Commission), which was launched on November 25, 2001, was established. What is the current state of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, which monitored human rights violations by state power and expected to serve as the last hideout for social minorities after its establishment? What is the independence of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, which human rights activists tried to protect with hunger and homeless situations in the cold snowstorm at the entrance of Myeongdong Cathedral? Who can confidently say that the NHRCK is properly monitoring state power to protect the human rights of our society?
The NHRCK, which disappeared from the issue of human rights.
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea did not express a clear opinion on the central and local governments that effectively ban rallies in downtown Seoul on the grounds of COVID-19 and did not conclude the petition case. Only by the time the administrative court ruled that the ban on assembly was an infringement of basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution was all about emergency relief for the ban on assembly of non-regular workers at customer centers in Wonju. Despite the position that the ban on assembly on the grounds of quarantine in the 2020 Assembly Act violates the rights of assembly demonstrations, there was no expression of opinion despite concerns from the international community in the reality of banning rallies and arresting the chairman of the KCTU in 2021. It did not solidify its advocacy for basic rights guaranteed by international human rights standards or the Constitution. The National Human Rights Commission's COVID-19 TF ended in just three months, and the reality that social minorities such as the disabled, homeless, and migrant workers were discriminated against even the right to be vaccinated was postponed. In the appearance of the NHRCK, which moves only when petitions are received, it has become a thing of the past to preemptively conduct a survey and make policy recommendations to create a human rights agenda.
Of course, during the Me Too movement, there were meaningful activities such as investigating the culture and arts community and creating a new gender discrimination correction team and a special sports human rights investigation team, and it is fortunate that they recommended the enactment of a comprehensive anti-discrimination law and started meeting again with civil society. However, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea did not show any signs of inequality in which social rights are worsening, such as labor and housing rights. In particular, the presence of the National Human Rights Organization could not be found in the event of a disaster such as COVID-19 and in the scene of serious retreatment of human rights.
Bureaucracy of the NHRCK and its communication with civil society
In order for the National Human Rights Commission of Korea to identify human rights issues and set the direction properly, continuous interest in the human rights field and cooperation with human rights civic groups are important. However, there are no two of these in the current Human Rights Commission. The poor 2022 work plan proposed by the National Human Rights Commission at a recent meeting was predictable. Human rights organizations were overflowing with resentment, but it is not known whether the NHRCK listened to it. The work plan submitted to the civic meeting at the time did not even mention the revision of the Infectious Disease Prevention Act, which pointed out the problems of the provisions that violated citizens' human rights during the COVID-19, but included "conducting training such as Eulji practice, fire, earthquake" and "systematic management of budget management and deduction". In the annual work plan to discuss human rights issues and projects with human rights organizations, state agencies could see the bureaucracy of the NHRCK and how formal they thought of meetings with civil society.
The NHRCK's innovation tasks were procrastinated.
This is because the NHRCK has not yet properly implemented the NHRCK's innovation tasks to overcome the bureaucracy of the NHRCK in 2018. Civil society participated in the National Human Rights Commission's Innovation Committee to clean up the past, increase transparency and accountability, and overcome bureaucracy, which had gradually lost independence for six years under Chairman Hyun Byung-chul's regime. In order to properly play an original role in protecting the human rights of citizens, transparency in the decision and work process must be increased. Little transparency has been made to strengthen the accountability of the NHRCK. The committee and standing committee, which are decision-making bodies of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, still have many non-disclosure agendas, and the preparation and disclosure of minutes in the form of transcripts containing the real names of human rights committee members has not yet been implemented. The establishment of a system such as the court's search for litigation cases to guarantee the right to know of those involved in the petition case is also stagnant.
Representative events of the NHRCK's opacity, undemocraticness, and power awareness were unprovoked delays in recommendations on the results of the Special Investigation Team on Sports Human Rights. The National Human Rights Commission of Korea decided to recommend the president to establish an independent investigation body through ex officio investigation, but did not recommend it, and attempted to lower the already determined "recommendation" to "expression of opinion." It was confirmed that the recommendation for an ex officio investigation was proposed as a non-disclosure agenda, but the NHRCK made no reflection or apology after the death of the late Choi Sook-hyun and criticism from human rights groups continued. It clearly shows how the bureaucracy of the NHRCK affects victims and petitioners of human rights violations. The National Human Rights Commission of Korea has no longer been with human rights activists at the forefront of human rights, such as conducting an ex officio investigation into human rights violations conducted during candlelight rallies against mad cow disease in 2008.
During the Moon Jae In administration, civil society formed a candidate recommendation committee for the appointment of human rights committee members, but other designated organizations, including the National Assembly and the Supreme Court, still exercise their right to nominate candidates for human rights committee members. Even before the revision of the law, the NHRCK did not even ask the nominating agency to improve, although it was possible to form a candidate recommendation committee involving civil society, such as the appointment of the Human Rights Commission. The revision of the law to secure the independence of the selection process of human rights committee members is not even proposed by the 21st National Assembly, so even the committee for recommending candidates for the chairman may vary depending on the next regime. The government is also largely responsible for the National Human Rights Commission's steady pace. In addition to efforts to revise the National Human Rights Commission of Korea Act, the expansion of manpower necessary for investigation of petition cases is insufficient, and government ministries and public institutions cannot be seen to be driven to properly accept the recommendations of the NHRCK.
Necessity to strengthen roles of the NHRCK and its direction
The Human Rights Commission is still a necessary organization for the poor, disabled, homeless, migrant workers, non-regular workers, sexual minorities whose hatred, discrimination, and existence are erased, including residents of Soseong-ri suffering from human rights violations by the police and merchants in Noryangjin Fisheries Market. In addition, guaranteeing human rights outside of Seoul is an important issue. The National Human Rights Commission of Korea should not entrust local human rights and discrimination only to local offices or recommend human rights ordinances, but should play a practical role in innovating local human rights offices to promote and guarantee local human rights. In addition, the introduction of a military human rights protection officer system with secured authority and manpower and the proper enactment of the Basic Human Rights Act, which will be the basis of national human rights policy, are also essential tasks for the NHRCK.
We hope that the NHRCK will increase the value of human rights in our society and serve as a monitor for power. Human rights organizations will continue to communicate and criticize the NHRCK so that it can adhere to the principles of human rights and establish national human rights policies against human rights violations by state power. Song Doo-hwan, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, should take a good look at the reality that human rights groups cannot only celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission and listen to the voices of the Human Rights Commission. Above all, it is time to reflect on the fact that there is a way forward for the NHRCK.
November 24 2021
A total of 65 human rights organizations in Korea

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