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25 May 2017

SOUTH KOREA: UN body orders President Han’s release from arbitrary detention

On 24 May the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders demanded that the South Korean Government implement the recent Opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) and immediately release Han Sang-gyun, President of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), a demand that is being echoed by the BWI.

“We are calling on South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in to embody his commitment to human rights and immediately release President Han and other political prisoners”, said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. “This is a golden opportunity to set a new agenda for South Korean workers, and put their rights at the forefront.”

Last month the WGAD declared Han’s deprivation of liberty arbitrary, because it resulted from him exercising his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, rights guaranteed under international agreements that South Korea is party to.

The WGAD also urged the Government to conduct a “full and independent investigation” into the circumstances surrounding Han’s incarceration and to take “appropriate measures” against those responsible for the violations. Further, they urged the Government to bring its legal framework and practices on the rights to peaceful assembly in line with the recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association in his January 2016 report.