South Korea: UN Human Rights Committee rules on eleven more cases

On 14 April 2010, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations ruled on 11 more cases of conscientious objectors, which had been submitted on 15 May 2007, following the first ground-breaking ruling of the Human Rights Committee from November 2006 (see CO-Update No 27, February 2007). In line with its earlier decision, the Human Rights Committee came to the following conclusion:

"7.4 The Committee notes that the authors' refusal to be drafted for compulsory militaryservice was a direct expression of their religious beliefs which, it is uncontested, were genuinely held and that the authors’ subsequent conviction and sentence amounted to an infringement of their freedom of conscience and a restriction on their ability to manifest their religion or belief. The Committee finds that as the State party has not demonstrated that in the present cases the restrictions in question were necessary, within the meaning of article 18, paragraph 3, it has violated article 18, paragraph 1, of the Covenant.
8. The Human Rights Committee, acting under article 5, paragraph 4, of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, concludes that the facts before the Committee reveal, in respect of each author, violations by the Republic of Korea of article 18, paragraph 1 of the Covenant.
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The Committee also pointed out that the South Korean state is "under an obligation to provide the authors with an effective remedy, including compensation. The State party is under an obligation to avoid similar violations of the Covenant in the future."

Korea Solidarity for Conscientious Objection (KSCO) informed War Resisters' International that a decision on a further 488 cases from South Korea is still pending. She also said that the conscientious objectors intend to sue the South Korean government for compensation.

The Human Rights Committee "wishes to receive from the State party, within 180 days, information about the measures taken to give effect to the Committee's Views."

Sources: Human Rights Committee: Communications Nos. 1593 to 1603/2007, CCPR/C/98/D/1593-1603/2007, 14 April 2010; Email Jungmin Choi, 3 May 2010