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Rights Agency Plans To Report More

Posted January. 12, 2007 06:35,   


A debate is expected to follow the National Human Rights Commission’s announcement that it will actively present its opinions about human rights-related trials to the judicature as one of its ten tasks for the New Year.

In a press conference held at the NHRC office in Jung-gu on January 11, NHRC General Policy Bureau Director Kim In-jae opened to the public the commission’s action plan for 2007 and said, “We will present a report of our activities and the international trends and standards of human rights-related judgments to the Constitutional Court and other courts to make the standards the main reference for trials.”

The NHRC turned in its opinion about ongoing trials to the judicature only twice in five years after it was launched.

The NHRC’s pursuit of such an active involvement has been a hot issue for its possible conflicts with the judicature and practicability.

According to Article 28 of “National Human Rights Commission Law,” the NHRC can present its opinions when there are requests from the Constitutional Court or other courts for human rights-related trials or when such opinions are recognized as necessary.

However, the NHRC has restrained itself about expressing its opinions as people point out that a national institute is trying to influence judgments, while progressive civil organizations have been discontent with such a passive policy.

The two cases the NHRC presented its opinions are: about abolishing the “householder system” in March of 2003 and about instruments of punishment used in prisons in June of 2003.

Other tasks included in the commission’s action plan are: improving human rights for refugees from North Korea; improving human rights for those in welfare establishments and the disabled; improving human rights for migrant workers and those married to foreigners; establishing instructions for how to recognize the transgression of human rights and discriminations.

Experts reacted to the NHRC’s announcement in diverged ways.

Sogang University Law professor Im Ji-bong said, “The NHRC has been passive about human rights-related trials so far. It is the commission’s right to present its opinions to the judicature as stated in the law.”

Soongsil University Law professor Kang Kyeong-keun pointed out, “People tend to think that the commission’s opinions have no legal force but ‘effect as recommendation.’ But a national institute’s opinions may have a psychological influence on a judge. It is also possible that the commission loses its authority by issuing ‘opinions without influence’ excessively.”

On the other hand, a source in the Supreme Court said, “There will be a chance for the commission to present its opinion when the commission thinks it is necessary after understanding the issue in question completely.”