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No Request to Repatriate Detainees

Posted June. 06, 2005 06:21,   


It was reported yesterday that the government decided to adopt the advice of the National Human Rights Commission to legislate a special law to investigate the circumstances of human rights abuses committed against the families of those kidnapped to North Korea and regain their good reputations.

Accordingly, it is expected that the truth of the massive forced kidnappings to North Korea, which occurred during the abnormal regime competition between the two Koreas in the 1960s and 70s, and the human rights abuses committed upon their some 500 families, will come to light after 30 to 40 years.

A high-profile government official said yesterday, “Lately, there was an agreement among relevant ministers including Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) Minister Oh Young-gyo and Unification Minister Chung Dong-young at a cabinet meeting to legislate a special law and that the MOGAHA would be in charge. A final announcement on it will be made sometime this week.”

As a result, MOGAHA will designate a branch to be in charge of this policy sooner or later and embark on the work to prepare for the legislation of the special law.

The MOGAHA is planning to examine into the various human rights abuses incurred upon the families of detainees in North Korea by the police and intelligence agencies during the surveillance and investigation procedures. They include torture and other cruelties; recruitment limitations as government officials and others; enlistment rejections; and limitations on traveling abroad which were applied in the name of the guilt-by-association system. In addition, the MOGAHA is planning to promote restoring the honors of families who were denounced as communists and make compensation.

Nonetheless, considering the status of inter-Korea relations, it was reported that the government temporarily decided to exclude articles requesting North Korea investigate the reality of the kidnappings and return the victims for the moment.

A member of a group for North Korea detainee families remarked, “It is belated yet fortunate that the government itself officially acknowledges the human rights abuses committed against the families of the kidnapped who have lived like criminals, and investigates them.”

On April 29, 2004, the National Human Rights Commission advised regarding legislation of the special law to the speaker of the National Assembly and the prime minister that “it is necessary to investigate into the reality of the human rights abuses committed against the families of 486 detainees in North Korea, whom the government acknowledged officially after the end of the Korean War, restore their honor, and make compensation through finding the truth.”

Jong-DaeHa orionha@donga.com