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NKHR Press Release) Proposed Amendments to South Korean Laws on abduction are violating international human rights standards
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2018-09-06 15:21:04
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Proposed Amendments to South Korean Laws on abduction are violating international human rights standards 

South Korean and International NGOs call on the UN to take urgent notice




(Seoul, August 29, 2018) The UN Commission of Inquiry for DPRK (North Korea) and consecutive

Special Rapporteurs for human rights in the DPRK have recognized the targeted abductions of ROK

nationals by North Korea during the Korean War and in the postwar period as an ongoing

international crime.


However, on August 13 2018, 12 members of the South Korean National Assembly introduced Bill

No. 14846 “Partial Amendments to the Act of Finding the Truth and the Damage from North Korea’s

Abduction During the Korean War and Restoring the Honor of the Victims”, and Bill No.14847

“Partial Amendments to the Law on Compensation and Assistance for Victims Abducted to North

Korea since the Conclusion of the Armistice Agreement”. These bills propose to replace the term

“abductee” with the term “missing persons” due to North Korea’s resistance.


On August 28, 2018 twelve domestic and international human rights organizations, including

Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, sent a joint letter to the UN Human Rights Office

in Seoul, and other special mandate holders to request urgent intervention stating that the proposed

amendments are contrary to internationally accepted human rights standards, which identify crimes of

abductions as crimes against humanity. The letter also noted that they stand in contradiction to the

findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry for DPRK and the recommendations of the UN Panel of

Experts on Accountability for DPRK to “firmly integrate human rights and accountability into any

political process for the Korean peninsula, acknowledging that peace and justice are mutually

reinforcing imperatives.”


The proposed amendments indicate a legislative intent to remove responsibility for abductions by

changing the language of the law, in contradiction with international human rights treaties ratified by

the Republic of Korea. Instead of bringing North Korea further into the realm of internationally

accepted human rights standards, many of which North Korea also ratified, the South Korean

legislative proposals are seeking to lower international and domestic standards to North Korean ones.


The abductees and their families have already been victimized twice: once through the pain of

abduction and loss, a second time when they were socially stigmatized and constantly surveilled by

the ROK authorities for having family in the North. Thus far, these policies have prevented many

abductees from seeking truth and justice. These amendments represent a third victimization by

proposing to remove hard-won protections under international and domestic law for the recognition of

the crime that has been committed against them.


On August 30, the international community will commemorate International Day of the Disappeared.


For more information, please contact:

Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, +82-2-723-1672