Arbitrary arrests / Deportation / Obstacles to the freedom of association
Republic of Korea
December 17, 2007
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in South Korea.
Brief description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and subsequent deportation to their countries of origin of Messrs. Kajiman Khapung, Raju Kumar Gurung and Abul Basher M. Moniruzzaman (Masum), three leaders of the Migrant Workers’ Trade Union (MTU), an affiliate of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).
According to the information received, in the morning of November 27, 2007, Messrs. Kajiman, MTU President, and Masum, MTU General Secretary, were arrested as they were leaving their houses to attend a protest in front of the Seoul Immigration Office. As regards Mr. Raju, MTU Vice-President, he was arrested by four immigration officers in front of the factory where he worked. When the latter requested to see the officers’ identification cards, they presented them along with a prepared detention order.
Soon after, the three men, who were arrested for being in an irregular or undocumented situation, were sent to a detention center in Cheongju, Northern Choongjeong Province, south of the capital Seoul.
On December 13, 2007, Messrs. Kajiman, Raju and Masum were secretely taken out of Cheongju Detention Center, where they had been confined since they were arrested, and were transported to Incheon International Airport and deported to their native countries (Nepal and Bangladesh) during the morning hours.
The Observatory fears that the arbitrary arrest and subsequent deportation of Messrs. Kajiman, Raj and Masum aim at sanctioning their labour right activities and, more largely, MTU activities. Indeed, their arrest came at a time when the MTU was planning campaigns against revisions to the Immigration Law proposed by the Ministry of Justice. Besides, since the beginning of August 2007, more than 20 MTU members and officers have been arrested.
Furthermore, the Observatory expresses its deep concern as Messrs. Kajiman, Raj and Masum might face more repression when they return to their home countries. To that extent, the Observatory recalls that Mr. Anwar Hossain, former MTU President, and a Bangladeshi national, was detained and investigated by the Bangladeshi authorities for “anti-Korean” and “anti-government” activities upon returning home earlier this year.
Please write to the authorities in South Korea urging them to:
- guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all MTU members as well as all human rights defenders in the country, including trade unionists;
- put an immediate end to any obstacles to the activities of the Migrant Workers’ Trade Union;
- put an end to all forms of harassment, legal action, and ill-treatment of human rights defenders in South Korea, including trade unionists, as well as any obstacles to freedoms of expression, association and assembly;
- ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, article 5.b which stipulates that everyone has the right “to form, join and participate in non-governmental organisations, associations or groups, as well as article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
- guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments signed or ratified by the Republic of Korea, all the more that the Republic of Korea is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Please also write to the authorities in Nepal and Bangladesh urging them to:
- guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Kajiman, Raju and Masum;
- ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular above-mentioned articles 1 and 12.2;
- guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments signed or ratified by Nepal and Bangladesh.
- Mr. Roh Moo-Hyun, President of the Republic, 1 Sejong-no, Jongno-gu Seoul 110-820, Republic of Korea. Tel: +822 770-0018; Fax: + 82 2 770-03 47 or 770-0001 / + 82 2 770-25 79. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Mr. Han Duck-soo, Prime Minister, 77-6 Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Fax: + 82-2-720-35 71. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Jung Seong-Jin, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, 1 Jungang-dong, Gwacheon Government Complex, Gyeonggi Prov., Republic of Korea. Fax: + 82-2-504-5724 / +82-2-503-3337 / +82-2-503-3532 / +82-2-500-9128.
- Mr. Lee Sang-soo, Minister of Labour, 2 Jungang-dong, Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Prov. Republic of Korea. Fax : + 82-2-3679-6581
- Mr. Myung-Jae, Park, Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs, 77-6 Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Fax : + 82-2-3703-5531
- National Human Rights Commission of Korea, Gumsegi Building, No. 16, Ulgiro 1-ga, Jung-gu, 100-842 Seoul, Republic of Korea. Tel: +82 2 2125 97 00; Fax: +82 2 2 125 98 11 / 96 66 / +82-2-2125-9718. E-mail: email@example.com
- Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations in Geneva, 1 avenue de l’Ariana, CP 42, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland. Fax: +4122 748 00 01. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Embassy and Mission to the European Union of South Korea in Brussels, 175 Chemin de la Hulpe, 1170 Watermael-Boitsfort, Belgium. Fax: + 32 2 675 52 21 / 662 2305. Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com.
Please also write to the embassies of South Korea in your respective country.
Geneva - Paris, December 17, 2007
Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
 These revisions could remove the requirement on authorities, in the process of conducting checks on migrant workers, to present identification documentation, to obtain other relevant documentation such as warrants prior to entering buildings, and the necessity of obtaining detention orders before arresting migrant workers.
 On May 14, 2005, Mr. Anwar Hossain had been arrested by police officers of the immigration control division because his visa had expired. He was beaten and suffered injuries to his head and hands during his arrest. The same day, one of his articles criticising the government’s policy towards illegal immigrant workers had been published in an important national newspaper. Mr. Hossain had been released on April 25, 2006 on medical grounds (See Observatory Annual Report 2006).