KOR 001 / 1009 / OBS 155
Arbitrary detention / Deportation
Republic of Korea
October 27, 2009
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), 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 deportation to Nepal of the migrants' human rights defender Mr. Minod Moktan, known as Minu, a Nepalese native migrant worker who emerged as a symbolic figure defending the rights of unregistered migrant workers in South Korea. Mr. Moktan founded the “Stop Crackdown Band” along with other migrants in 2003, co-founded the Internet broadcaster of the Migrant Workers Television (MWTV), and produced two documentaries on the migrant workers' situation in South Korea.
According to the information received, on October 23, 2009, at 5 pm, Mr. Minod Moktan, who had been living in the Republic of Korea for 18 years, was deported to Nepal after having been held in detention for fifteen days.
On October 8, 2009, Mr. Minod Moktan was arrested by immigration officers while he was entering the MWTV building in Yongsang, Seoul, in the course of an alleged immigration raid. He was subsequently imprisoned at Hwaesong Detention Centre. The circumstances in which his arrest was undertaken did not follow the immigration raids usual procedures and seem to demonstrate it was clearly linked to his activities of defence and promotion of migrant workers’ rights.
Mr. Minod Moktan's arrest came just as the Government had declared an intensification on the crackdown of undocumented migrant workers, which is scheduled to continue until December 2009. On several occasions, Mr. Minod Moktan strongly denounced the brutal nature of the crackdown and called on the Government to implement a program to legalise undocumented migrant workers.
Mr. Moktan's arrest is the latest incident in a series of targeted crackdowns against migrant activists in South Korea. Since 2002, immigration officers have indeed used the cover of their authority to arrest undocumented migrants to target those involved in the defence of human rights.
The Observatory denounces the arbitrary detention and subsequent deportation of Mr. Minod Moktan, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities, and urges the South Korean authorities to comply with the relevant international norms and standards, in particular the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Please write to the authorities of the Republic of Korea asking them to:
- Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in the country, and in particular migrant's rights defenders;
- Put an end to all forms of harassment, legal action, and ill-treatment of human rights defenders in South Korea, including migrant's rights defenders and trade unionists, as well as any obstacles to freedoms of expression, association and assembly;
- Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and 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 his or her rights”;
- More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international human rights instruments ratified by the Republic of Korea.
- Mr. Lee Myung-bak, President of the Republic, Blue House, Seoul, Republic of Korea, Fax: +82 2770 1690
- Mr. Chung Un-chan, Prime Minister, 77-6 Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Fax: + 82-2-720-35 71. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Kim Kyung-han, 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. Lim Tae-hee, Minister of Labour, 2 Jungang-dong, Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Prov. Republic of Korea. Fax : + 82-2-3679-6581
- 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: + 82-2-2125-9812 / +82 2 2 125 98 11 / 96 66 / +82-2-2125-9718. E-mail: email@example.com
- Ambassador Mr. Sung-joo Lee, 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 the Republic of Korea in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, October 27, 2009
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code 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:
- E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
- Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
 See Observatory Annual Reports 2007 and 2009 as well as Urgent Appeal KOR 001/0508/OBS 086.