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NHRCK Announces Major Tasks for 2nd Human Rights Survey of 2007
Date : 2007.05.30 00:00:00 Hits : 1275

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) selected the following tasks for the second human rights Survey of 2007: establishment of the right to freedom and setting future direction, guarantee of senior citizens" right to healthcare, investigation into discrimination against female non-regular workers and infringement of their right to work in the distribution industry, investigation into unwed teenage mothers" right to education and learning, application of international human rights standards in legal proceedings, interpretation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and management and use of personal information on individuals in administrative documents, etc. The NHRCK will commission research services as necessary in carrying out these tasks.

The human rights status survey is intended to precisely assess the status of various human rights issues in Korean society. Based on the findings of the investigation, the NHRCK issues recommendations relating to applicable laws and policies.

△ Task 1: Investigation into establishment of the right to freedom and setting future direction
There has been a great deal of progress in establishing the right to freedom since the launch of the NHRCK in 2002. There is now a need to assess the extent of change in human rights conditions in Korea as a result of activities by the NHRCK and to set the future direction of the ongoing human rights promotion effort. The NHRCK" s efforts to protect the right to freedom as well as overall human rights conditions throughout the country will be analyzed to determine the contribution by the NHRCK to Korean society and discover shortcomings in its activities. The degree of attainment of the right to freedom through the NHRCK" s activities will be clarified in order to set the desired direction of the NHRCK and determine new tasks.

△ Task 2: Investigation into guarantee of senior citizens" right to healthcare
A wide array of healthcare and institutional schemes are being devised as Korea approaches aged society status. From the perspective of guaranteeing the elderly" s right to healthcare, however, a more in-depth analysis of existing policies and institutional systems is required to assess the quality of healthcare services and nature of institutional problems. The elderly are a major vulnerable social group and requires priority consideration by the government including implementation of adequate policies. To determine whether substantive protection is being provided and the right to healthcare is being guaranteed under the existing health and medical system, the level of public awareness regarding health and medical services will be determined and factors impeding the guarantee of the right to healthcare within the framework of related systems will be analyzed so that materials ensuring more effective policy-making may be provided and the proper direction for institutional improvement may be presented.

△ Task 3: Investigation into discrimination against female non-regular workers and infringement of their right to work in the distribution industry
Discrimination against female non-regular workers in the distribution industry and infringement upon their right to work have reached alarming proportions, making those workers a major vulnerable group in terms of human rights. Under these circumstances, a fact-finding survey regarding their situation must be conducted. A high proportion of the labor in distribution is female. Most of the workers are non-regular workers and are accordingly subject to unfavorable working conditions including wage discrimination. As they are employed indirectly as dispatched workers or outsourced service providers, etc., they do not have an organized labor union that can effectively apply pressure for improvement of working conditions. The NHRCK intends to devise policy alternatives based on a concrete, in-depth investigation into their situation.

△ Task 4: Investigation into the status of unwed teenage mothers" right to education and learning
Korean society at large has a very negative perception toward childbirth out of wedlock. The number of unwed teenage mothers has been on the rise, and these mothers deserve proper care and consideration. When they discover that they are pregnant, they are generally pressured to voluntarily leave school or they drop out of school for themselves under the belief that they can no longer attend school.
A high school diploma is a minimum requirement to be competitive in society. Because these mothers stop attending school, they are plunged into a social plight. The treatment of unwed teenage mothers by educational institutes will be investigated in order to devise measures to proactively protect their human rights including their right to education and learning. In addition, cases of unwed teenage mothers who successfully completed school will be explored to help formulate alternatives ensuring their adaptation to society in the future.

△ Task 5: Research into application of international human rights standards in legal proceedings
The judiciary must apply international human rights norms in specific trials to ensure that international human rights laws are domestically implemented in an effective manner. However, ordinary courts and the Constitutional Court in the Republic of Korea rarely apply international human rights covenants in trials pertaining to human rights. This calls for investigation and analysis of the situation and its causes and for formulation of measures for improvement. An analysis and review of foreign courts" application of international human rights norms may offer precedents by which ordinary courts and the Constitutional Court may substantively apply international human rights norms.

△ Task 6: Publication of guidebook interpreting the Convention on the Rights of the Child
One of the NHRCK" s central tasks for 2007 is to promote the human rights of children and youths. For an examination of policies on improving their human rights status, it is necessary to clearly understand the Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international human rights standard. Publication of a guidebook interpreting the Convention is a requisite task, along with promotion of children" s human rights in Korean society. The interpretation guidebook will include detailed analysis and interpretation of each provision of the Convention and contain related general commentary, human rights treaties, UN documents, rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, and decisions by the Constitutional Court and ordinary courts of Korea.

△ Task 7: Investigation into management and use of personal information on individuals in administrative documents
Forms that are ordinarily used by central administrative agencies, local governments, judicial organizations, and so on require civil petitioners to provide too much personal information. Furthermore, the collected personal information is frequently made public, raising the risk of human rights violations. As a matter of fact, the number of complaints filed with the NHRCK to the effect that revelation of personal information by public institutions caused damage has been increasing year by year. The NHRCK intends to ascertain the level of personal information protection by public organizations concerning their handling of administrative forms, check the legal rationale thereof, and formulate recommendations to improve applicable policies, systems, laws, and practices as necessary.

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