South Korea
Urgent Interventions

Supreme Court upholds three years’ prison sentence for trade unionist Han Sang-gyun

Paris-Geneva, June 1, 2017 - SouthKorean authorities must immediately and unconditionally release KoreanConfederation of Trade Union (KCTU) President Mr. Han Sang-gyun, theObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCTpartnership) said today.

On May 31,2017, South Korea's Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals' conviction ofMr. Han Sang-gyun and sentenced himto three years in prison in connection with a demonstration organised by KCTUin November 2015.

“HanSang-gyun is being detained for the peacefulexercise of his rights. The decision of the Supreme Court is extremelydisappointing all the more as it disregards South Korea’s obligations under internationallaw and an Opinion recently adopted by a group of UN experts”, theObservatory said.

On April 25,2017, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) foundthat Mr. Han Sang-gyun’sdeprivation of liberty was arbitrary as it resulted from the exercise of hisright to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

The WGADcalled on the South Korean authorities to immediately release Mr. Han, andaward him “compensation and other reparations” for the deprivation of libertyto which he has been subjected.

On July 4,2016, Mr. Han Sang-gyun was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 500,000Won (approximately 400 Euros) in connection with a demonstration organized byKCTU against proposed labour reforms in Seoul on November 14, 2015. During therally, police used excessive force to disperse demonstrators. Authorities hadpreviously issued arrest warrants against Han for his participation in peacefuldemonstrations that had taken place in April and May 2015 to express solidaritywith the victims of the Sewol Ferry disaster in April 2014. On December 13,2016, a Court of Appeals reduced Mr. Han’s sentence to three years in prison.

“The SouthKorean Government must implement UN WGAD’s Opinion and end Han Sang-gyun’sarbitrary detention. The failure to release Han Sang-gyun is a missedopportunity for President Moon Jae-in to burnish his human rights credentials”,the Observatory concluded.

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) wascreated in 1997 by FIDH and OMCT. The objective of this programme is to preventor remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH andOMCT are both members of, the European Union Human RightsDefenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

For more information, please contact:

• FIDH: Samuel Hanryon (French, English):+33 6 72 28 42 94 (Paris) / Andrea Giorgetta (English): Tel: +66886117722(Bangkok)
• OMCT: Delphine Reculeau (French, English): +41 22 809 49 39(Geneva)

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