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Country report and updates: Korea, South

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Articles related to conscientious objection

19 Feb 2016
English

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Information submitted by the International Fellowship of Reconcilitation and Conscience and Peace Tax International

INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION

Submission to the 115th Session of the Human Rights Committee

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

(Military service, conscientious objection and related issues)

Updated: September 2015. Contact:

Derek BRETT

International Fellowship of Reconciliation

Main Representative to the UN, Geneva

derek.brett@ifor.com

Tel: (41) 77 462 9825

Background: the issue in the Human Rights Committee

In its concluding observations on the Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Korea under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Human Rights Committee expresses its concern “that: (a) under the Military Service Act of 2003 the penalty for refusal of active military service is imprisonment for a maximum of three years and that there is no legislative limit on the number of times they may be recalled and subjected to fresh penalties; (b) those who have not satisfied military service requirements are excluded from employment in government or public organisations and that (c) convicted conscientious objectors bear the stigma of a criminal record,” and recommends: “The State party should take all necessary measures to recognize the right of conscientious objectors to be exempted from military service. It is encouraged to bring legislation into line with article 18 of the Covenant. In this regard, the Committee draws the attention of the State party to the paragraph 11 of its general comment No. 22 (1993) on article 18 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion).”1

11 Feb 2016
English

The United Nations' Human Rights' Committee have published new concluding observations following the examination of Austria and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as part of the Universal Periodic Review.

The Committee called upon the state of Austria to 'ensure that the length of service alternative to military service required for conscientious objectors is not punitive in nature.'

It demanded that the Republic of Korea:

'(a) Immediately release all conscientious objectors condemned to a prison sentence for exercising their right to be exempted from military service;

(b) Ensure that the criminal records of conscientious objectors are expunged, that they are provided with adequate compensation and that their information is not publicly disclosed; and

(c) Ensure the legal recognition of conscientious objection to military service, and provide conscientious objectors with the possibility to perform an alternative service of civilian nature.

11 Feb 2016
English

A conscientious objector leads an antimilitarist protest carrying a flag with WRI's broken rifle emblem in FinlandA conscientious objector leads an antimilitarist protest carrying a flag with WRI's broken rifle emblem in FinlandWith new sources of information, we've been able to update the prisoners for peace list with hundreds of more names from Singapore and South Korea, primarily Jehovah's Witnesses. The process of adding names of conscientious objectors to our database is ongoing. They include prison addresses, so please consider writing to an imprisoned CO over the year, not just on Prisoners for Peace Day!

There are over 700 COs in prison in South Korea at present.

See the full list here.

07 Jan 2016
English

* Adopted by the Committee at its 115th session (19 October–6 November 2015)

C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations

Views under the Optional Protocol

6. The Committee remains concerned about the absence of a specific mechanism to implement the Committee’s Views under the Optional Protocol In particular, the Committee notes with concern that the State party has, except in one case, failed to implement the Committee’s Views, notably the numerous cases concerning conscientious objection (art. 2).

7. The State party should establish mechanisms and appropriate procedures to give full effect to the Committee’s Views so as to guarantee effective remedies in all cases of violations against the Covenant It should also fully implement the Views the Committee has issued so far.

01 Dec 2015
English

In south Korea, a growing number of lower courts have recently ruled in favour of COs, acknowledging their right to the freedom of conscience. One example is “Suwon district court” which on August 13th found two COs not guilty. The court said that “their objection to military service neither undermines the function of the nation nor violates others’ rights and interests”. A day earlier, the Gwangju District Court ruled in favour of a conscientious objector, based on a similar argument. Though this is an improvement in the status of COs in south Korea, the supreme court has not been making similar judgements, having turned down an appeal of a CO on August 28th, thus imprisoning him for 18 months.

Forum posts related to conscientious objection