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National Human Rights Commission of Korea Urges Abolition of National Security Law

National Human Rights Commission of Korea Urges Abolition of National Security Law

Posted August. 24, 2004 21:57,   


The National Human Rights Commission of Korea urged the chairman of the National Assembly and the Minister of Justice to completely abolish the National Security Law after its all-member committee discussion on August 24. It is the first time that a national institution has suggested abolishing the law.

This will bring about significant impacts since it was announced in the middle of a controversy over whether the law should be amended or abolished among political circles and civic organizations. The Uri Party seemed to have welcomed the urge, but the Grand National Party expressed opposition to the abolition, not the amendment. Commission Chairman Kim Chang-kuk said in a press conference the same day, “The current National Security Law has caused constant disputes over its acts against human rights due to its arbitrary application and the shortfalls of its regulations themselves,” adding, “We thought that amendments on certain texts could not heal the human rights violations on a large scale done by the National Security Law.”

The Commission pointed out the following arguments in support of the abolition of the National Security Law: △because it was temporarily established before the criminal law enactment in 1948, but was never absorbed or abolished, △because it was amended seven times without a national consensus and therefore lacks procedural righteousness, and △because it extensively violates freedom of thought, conscience, and expression, even though it is “heart-felt criminal law,” against the principle of legality and criminal law based on criminal acts.

The commission also added, “There are many concerns about a security void and problems of reciprocity with North Korea caused by the abolition. However, it is fully admissible because existing laws such as criminal laws can regulate that matter, and because North Korea does not have any special security laws such as the National Security Law.”

Eight members supported abolition among 10 members in attendance at the all-member committee meeting on the same day with two supporting a general amendment.

Chairman Kim said, “If necessary, we can devise a plan to amend and supplement related texts in criminal law,” adding, “Korea has to accept the opinions and decisions of international society as a member. Its attitude toward North Korea also needs to reflect the changes in our time and its surroundings.”

The urge of the National Human Rights Commission does not have any legal binding, but has held considerable influence so far. If the urging of the commission is not accepted, counter party has to hand in a letter of proof according to the National Human Rights Commission Law.

The commission has operated a task force team to study the National Security Law for one year and two months now since March last year because the problem of whether the law should be amended or abolished was designated as one of the 10 human rights missions January last year. The all-member committee has gone through three discussion sessions since July 26 based on their study of the situation.

Yang-Hwan Jung Min-Hyuk Park ray@donga.com mhpark@donga.com