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[Editorial] National Human Rights Commission Recommendations Could Shake Nation

[Editorial] National Human Rights Commission Recommendations Could Shake Nation

Posted December. 19, 2005 03:04,   


The National Human Rights Commission drafted “recommendations on basic plans for national human rights policies” to be submitted to the government. The Commission said that it summed up tasks that need to be completed for the protection and enhancement of human rights.

The recommendations are likely to be controversial, however, because the recommendations say that the National Security Law should be abolished, public officials and teachers should be guaranteed rights to political activities, governmental mediations in labor disputes should be abolished, limits on time and methods of assembly should be scrapped, and conscientious objection to military service should be approved. These recommendations, if enacted into law, could shake the foundations of this nation.

More than 70 percent of the Korean people are against the abolition of the National Security Law, and some politicians have reached a consensus that the law should be amended, rather than abolished. However, the Human Rights Commission has argued that the law should be scrapped “to enhance freedom of speech and freedom of press.” Abolishing the National Security Law, even though it is purported to be for the sake of freedom of speech and freedom of press, is tantamount to negating the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. An abolishment of the National Security Law could remove the barriers preventing North Korea from openly spreading in South Korea its propaganda. It is the self-righteous administration that is a hindrance in achieving true freedom of speech, not the National Security Law.

Allowing public officials to participate in politics is likely to undermine the political neutrality of public officials, giving rise to more political and social conflicts and eventually lowering the nation’s productivity. Moreover, if essential public businesses are reduced, government medication in labor disputes is abolished, and criminal punishments for illegal strikes are eased, as recommended by the commission, it will make political and militant labor strikes, that are already a hindrance to the economic development, chronic. It will also worsen the rigidity of the labor market.

The recommendations have fully accepted the requirements of the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers` Union and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.

Approving conscientious objection runs counter to the rulings of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. Last year, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a conscientious objector, and the Constitutional Court finally said that conviction of a conscientious objector is not against the Constitution.

The National Human Rights Commission has kept silent on human rights violations of North Korea, and has turned a deaf ear to the cries of families of those who were abducted to North Korea. Given this, it is doubtful whether the recommendations really focused on human rights. It is hard to dispel the suspicion that the recommendations reflect the intentions of the Roh Moo-hyun administration to galvanize “those on its side” and to experiment with its left-leaning ideology. If the government tries to enact a law as recommended by the Commission, it will face resistance from the public.