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NAP : National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

A Roadmap to a National Human Rights Culture

A Practical Guide to the Recommendation for the "National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights"
(Human Rights NAP)

Forword

  • Introduction to A Practical Guide to the Recommendation for the "Human Rights NAP"

    Just as every person has an 'individual ethos,' every country has a 'national ethos.' Released on January 6, 2006 by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK), the Recommendation for the "National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights" (hereafter referred to as the "Human Rights NAP") is aimed at enhancing our 'national ethos.' The Recommendation provides a blueprint for envisioning our society as one that fully protects and respects human rights.

    The Recommendation is the result of three years of research conducted by the NHRCK and discussions with government ministries and agencies, non-governmental organizations, professional associations, scholars and specialists of relevant areas, and human rights and other civic organizations and individuals that have collectively concentrated their efforts on drawing up this Recommendation.

    As a result of our concerted efforts, we have identified eleven socially disadvantaged and minority groups, including non-standard and migrant workers, and persons with disabilities, for whom the exercise of rights is difficult and remedial action is urgently needed. We recommend an increase in focused resources for these groups over the next five years.

    The NHRCK has submitted the Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP to the Government. The final Human Rights NAP will be established by a coordinating body under the Office for Government Policy Coordination or other government ministry or department. The NHRCK will monitor the process by which the Government establishes and implements the Human Rights NAP. We will do our best to ensure that the final Human Rights NAP will fully reflect the contents of this Recommendation.

    Once the positive measures suggested in this Recommendation are effectuated in our social institutions and consciousness, I am confident that our country will be one in which all persons can live with dignity and worth. This guide provides a sketch of the NHRCK's vision for a national human rights culture which I hope will foster public interest in and support of the Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP.
    Cho Young-Hoang
    Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of Korea

  • Part 1. Overview of the Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP

    • What are 'human rights'?
      Human rights are the fundamental rights and freedoms to which we are all inherently entitled as human beings and without which we cannot live with dignity. Human rights include the right to life, liberty and security of person, and the right to equal protection under the law without discrimination. Human rights belong equally to all persons, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
    • Human rights are universal.
      Human rights must be universally protected for every person, everywhere. While nations, with their own distinct cultures and traditions, may differ slightly in their understanding and interpretation of human rights, it is unacceptable to dismiss the paramount importance of the fundamental human rights of individuals by claiming that "human rights can be sacrificed for national interests" or that "human rights should be addressed after all other needs are fulfilled."
    • What is the 'National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights'?
      On January 9, 2006, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) released its Recommendation for the "National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights" (hereafter, Human Rights NAP). The Human Rights NAP provides the foundation upon which mid- and long-term national human rights policies can be built.
    • The Human Rights NAP represents our commitment to the international community to promote and protect human rights.
      In the wake of the turmoil and atrocities of World Wars I and II, the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Adopted in 1948, this historic landmark document, which has been incorporated in many national constitutions and law, marked the first international recognition of the universal and inalienable rights of all persons, everywhere. As the foundation of international human rights law, the Declaration has also served as a model for subsequent international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ("rights to freedom") and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ("social rights").
      In 1993, several world leaders gathered in Vienna to encourage national governments to draw up and implement a Human Rights NAP. Later in 2001, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommended that, by June of 2006, the Korean Government inform the Committee of the progress it has made toward devising the Human Rights NAP. The Human Rights NAP represents our national commitment to the international community to promote and protect human rights.

    * Rights to freedom is a comprehensive concept that refers to civil and political rights, including the right to bodily safety and freedom, the right to freedom of thought and conscience, and the right to freedom of assembly and association.
    * Social rights refer to economic, social and cultural rights, including the rights to adequate food, housing, healthcare, education, working conditions, social security, and culture entitled to all persons and their families. Every national government is obliged to guarantee for all persons an adequate standard of living; thus, social rights cannot be enjoyed unless certain economic resources are secured first.

    • The NHRCK will keep a close eye on how the Government develops and implements the Human Rights NAP.
      Article 1 of the National Human Rights Commission Act provides that: "The purpose of this Act is to contribute to the realization of human dignity and worth and the safeguard of the basic order of democracy by establishing the National Human Rights Commission to ensure the protection of the inviolable and fundamental human rights of all individuals and the promotion of the standards of human rights." Under this Act, the NHRCK acts as the sole national institution that deals exclusively with human rights issues. The NHRCK's recommendations regarding governmental development and implementation of mid- and long-term human rights policy plans are contained in the Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP.
    • The NHRCK is responsible for the Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP.
      The NHRCK and the Government have agreed on a division of the labor with regard to human rights issues. In accordance with the agreement, the NHRCK is responsible for drawing up the Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP, and the Government is responsible for setting it up, based on the NHRCK's recommendation.

      From start to finish, the NHRCK serves as the advisory body to Governmental development and implementation of the Human Rights NAP. It makes policy and priority recommendations for the Human Rights NAP as well as provides advice for its successful development and implementation.
    • Any human rights issues not included in the 1st Human Rights NAP will be addressed in the 2nd Human Rights NAP.
      Any human rights issues requiring attention but not included in the 1st Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP will be addressed in the 2nd Recommendation which will be drawn up five years from now. After consideration of the results of the development and implementation of the 1st Human Rights NAP, those human rights-related areas determined to require further improvements will also be addressed in the 2nd Recommendation.
    • The Recommendation is the result of large-scale data-based research as well as ongoing discussions with various individuals, organizations, and institutions.
      In preparing the Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP, we collected and analyzed a vast amount of data, and reviewed the research literature, government-run research institute reports, human rights body materials, and human rights-related news articles. We also considered the Government's mid- and long-term frameworks and policy plans, as well as the UN Guide to the Human Rights NAP, the Human Rights NAPs of fifteen nations, and thirteen country reports issued under UN human rights conventions. Additionally, we consulted twenty-six studies on current domestic human rights conditions conducted by outside experts.

      Moreover, we listened to what human rights groups had to say. We held seventeen meetings with a wide-range of human rights groups, each specializing in a different area of human rights. Upon drafting the Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP, we asked these groups to review the draft and provide suggestions for improvements.

      We also consulted Government agencies and held meetings with government officials engaged in different areas of human rights policy, including labor and social welfare. In particular, officials from the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Health and Welfare offered insightful opinions and information.
    • Preparation for the Recommendation spanned three and a half years.
      The NHRCK organized an NAP task force, an advisory team composed of human rights specialists, a council of human rights policy-makers, and an NAP working party to collectively map out the Recommendation. The NAP task force, comprised of representatives from the NHRCK, human rights groups, and academic and legal circles, decided on the basic direction of the Recommendation. The advisory team served to increase the professionalism of the Recommendation by conducting fact-finding research to determine the status of human rights in Korea. The council of human rights policy-makers functioned as a channel through which we communicated and coordinated with Government agency officials to explore human rights policy options. Finally, the NAP working party, consisting of NHRCK staff, performed practical assignments such as collecting data, coordinating tasks, organizing seminars, and drafting the Recommendation.
    • The Recommendation consists of three parts.
      Part 1 defines the Human Rights NAP and describes the courses we took in drawing up the Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP. Part 2 focuses on the positive measures that we recommend ought to be taken to protect and promote the human rights of eleven socially disadvantaged and minority groups, including non-standard and migrant workers, and persons with disabilities. Part 3 suggests legislative and institutional improvements for the promotion of human rights, and provides recommendations for the strengthening of human rights education and forging of more communicative and cooperative exchange with the international community.
    • Protecting socially disadvantaged and minority groups is our number one priority.
      The Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP prioritizes human rights protection of socially disadvantaged and minority groups, including persons with disabilities, non-standard workers, and North Korean defectors. It also places great emphasis on legislative and institutional improvements for the promotion of social rights and rights to freedom.
  • Part 2. Human Rights Protection For Socially Disadvantaged and Minority Groups

    In step with our society's tremendous democratic progress, we have witnessed a considerable improvement in human rights conditions. Nevertheless, the fundamental rights of socially disadvantaged and minority groups have yet to be fully protected. In addition, the foreign exchange crisis of 1997 and its subsequent economic difficulties degraded the promotion and protection of human rights for these groups. Against this backdrop, the NHRCK has identified eleven socially disadvantaged and minority groups for whom the exercise of rights is difficult and remedial action is urgently needed, and urges that more resources be directed for the promotion and protection of the human rights of these groups over the next five years. The target groups include persons with disabilities, non-standard and migrant workers, refugees, women, children and youth, the elderly, sexual minorities, persons with a history of illness, soldiers, riot police and police conscripts, North Korean defectors, and institutional residents. This Part provides a detailed description of the current status and conditions of these groups as well as the positive measures that ought to be taken to address their problems.

    [Persons with disabilities]
    We recommend protection of the right to freedom from discrimination in employment, working conditions, and social security benefits for persons with disabilities.

    • Promoting employment and guaranteeing work opportunities for persons with disabilities.
      Laws and regulations related to persons with disabilities ought to include the standards by which to determine a discriminatory act and the remedies and sanctions to be taken in response. The State plays an important role in promoting the employment of persons with disabilities. As such, we recommend that the Government offer a range of incentives to those who employ persons with disabilities and show stronger support of persons with disabilities who are or wish to be self-employed.
    • Eliminating discrimination in educational opportunities and improving educational environments.
      We recommend that all educational institutions be equipped with convenient facilities for students with disabilities and staffed by appropriately trained and qualified teachers and educators.
    • Guaranteeing the right to mobility and access.
      The Recommendation, with an eye toward securing the right to mobility for persons with disabilities, calls upon the Government to take positive measures regarding those facilities that were built or installed prior to the effect of the 'Act on the Promotion of Mobility Convenience for the Mobility Handicapped.' In addition, we recommend an increase in the numbers of in-service buses equipped with wheelchair lifts and elevators installed and operating in and around subway stations, as well as additional railcar seats reserved for those with disabilities.
    • Effectively guaranteeing the exercise of the right to vote.
      We recommend that the Government work to guarantee the effective exercise of the right to vote for persons with disabilities by developing and distributing assistive devices, improving criminal trial proceedings involving persons with disabilities (especially for those persons living with mental disabilities), reinforcing education and training of persons providing services or operating facilities designed for persons with disabilities, and expanding services and facilities for persons with disabilities.
    • Securing the right to health.
      We recommend an increase in the numbers of hospitals and medical personnel providing rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities. In addition, the NHRCK urges the Government to work toward eliminating discrimination against persons with mental disabilities in accessing medical insurance by amending relevant provisions under the Commercial Code. We also recommend revision of the private insurance law to protect persons with disabilities from unreasonable discrimination by private insurance providers. Finally, in order to address the economic difficulties faced by persons with disabilities and their families, we suggest the calculation of a minimum cost-of-living index and an increase in current disability benefits to a realistic level.
    • In order to prevent the overuse of non-standard work, legislation and regulations are needed to define the grounds for justifying the use of non-standard work.
    • Eliminating discrimination in wages, working conditions, and social security benefits.
      Legislative and institutional improvements are required to ensure equal treatment of non-standard workers and their standard counterparts with regard to working conditions including wages, work hours, and employee benefits. We recommend that the law require an employer seeking to employ a fixed-term worker to draw up a written contract that clearly specifies the term of employment; otherwise, the worker concerned shall be treated as an employee contracted for an indefinite duration of time.
      Concrete measures need to be taken to protect the three fundamental rights to work: the right to organize labor, the right to collective bargaining, and the right to collective action. Moreover, we recommend devising and implementing a range of measures to protect workers engaged in special-type work, with full consideration given to the unique features of their work.
      Prime contractor employers (i.e., employers who enter into contractual agreement with and dispatch workers to other employers) and subcontractor employers (i.e., employers using dispatched workers) ought to be liable for non-compliance with employer obligations and responsibilities.

    [Non-standard workers]
    Today's standard worker might be tomorrow's non-standard worker.
    Types of non-standard work include temporary work associated with temporary work agencies and fixed-term contracts, as well as work associated with the cottage industry.
    Non-standard workers, whose numbers have been on the rise since the 1990s, are unable to exercise the three fundamental rights to work. There is also a widening gap between non-standard and standard workers in terms of wages and working conditions.
    Valuable lessons can be learned from the experiences of advanced nations where the types of non-standard work are strictly regulated and legislation regarding fixed-term or part-time employment have been enacted. It is necessary that we iron out workable alternatives to address discrimination against non-standard workers.

    • In order to prevent the overuse of non-standard work, legislation and regulations are needed to define the grounds for justifying the use of non-standard work.
    • Eliminating discrimination in wages, working conditions, and social security benefits.
      Legislative and institutional improvements are required to ensure equal treatment of non-standard workers and their standard counterparts with regard to working conditions including wages, work hours, and employee benefits. We recommend that the law require an employer seeking to employ a fixed-term worker to draw up a written contract that clearly specifies the term of employment; otherwise, the worker concerned shall be treated as an employee contracted for an indefinite duration of time.
      Concrete measures need to be taken to protect the three fundamental rights to work: the right to organize labor, the right to collective bargaining, and the right to collective action. Moreover, we recommend devising and implementing a range of measures to protect workers engaged in special-type work, with full consideration given to the unique features of their work.
      Prime contractor employers (i.e., employers who enter into contractual agreement with and dispatch workers to other employers) and subcontractor employers (i.e., employers using dispatched workers) ought to be liable for non-compliance with employer obligations and responsibilities.

    * In 2001 the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights observed that, in general, non-standard workers in Korea received lower wages, pension benefits, unemployment and health benefits, and have less job security compared to standard workers who performed the same tasks.

    • Expanding educational opportunities and job training for non-standard workers to enable their transition to standard work.
      We recommend offering non-standard workers improved access to educational and job training opportunities, and providing financial and other incentives to employers and employees participating in vocational skill development programs. We believe such measures will lead to a rise in non-standard worker participation in educational and training programs.

    [Migrant workers and refugees]
    Migrant workers are not an expendable and exploitable workforce.
    According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), a migrant worker is a person who migrates or who has migrated from one country to another with a view to being employed otherwise to his/her own account. Although migrant workers play an important role in the Korean economy, their social and economic status is still very low. The Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP stresses that migrant workers, including undocumented workers and their families ought to be protected from any infringement of their human rights and guaranteed the rights to work, social security, family care and education, health, and culture.

    • Legislative and institutional improvements are needed to protect and prevent violation of the fundamental human rights of migrant workers. We recommend easing the restrictions on workplace mobility placed on foreign workers under the foreigner work permit system. Moreover, a social security accord ought to be reached so as to address the unfavorable treatment of migrant workers in social security programs, including the pension scheme.
    • The rights to parenting, health, education, and culture should be guaranteed. The children of migrant workers ought to be entitled to the right to be cared for by their parents and the right to be educated, regardless of the origin or status of their parents. Within the social welfare framework, we recommend financial provisions for migrant workers to aid in medical and child care expense coverage.

    * In January of 2003, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that the Korean Government ensure equal access to education and social welfare for all children of foreigners, including those of undocumented migrant workers.

    • Promoting maternity protection of and violence prevention for migrant women.
      We suggest strengthening workplace inspections to ensure that legal provisions for maternity protection apply to female migrant workers. We also recommend that eligibility requirements for social security programs, including basic living benefits, include foreign women married to Korean nationals, even if they have not yet acquired Korean citizenship.

    * The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that the Korean Government take positive measures to prohibit discrimination against resident foreigners, women married to asylum seekers, and children of mixed marriages, particularly Amerasian children (in 1999), and to make efforts to prevent the trafficking of foreign women as well as provide support and assistance to the victims of such trafficking (in 2003).

    • The refugee recognition process needs to be improved, and social assistance for refugees and asylum-seekers ought to be expanded to promote their human rights.
      We recommend the establishment of refugee relief centers and an independent body for refugee recognition, consisting of specialists in refugee-related areas. We also recommend that legal services be made available to asylum-seekers. Additionally, recognized refugees ought to enjoy the same right to social security on par with Korean nationals.

    [Women]
    The fight against gender discrimination is not yet over.
    In recent years, Korea has made significant legislative and institutional progress, including passage of the Equal Employment Act and abolition of the male-oriented family registry system, toward combating discrimination against women. However, gender discrimination continues to persist in people's attitudes and minds, as well as in social practices.
    In response, the Recommendation urges the Government to take measures to ensure the prevention and elimination of the various forms of violence to which many women are exposed. It also seeks promotion of maternity protection and assurance that housekeeping, and family and child care responsibilities are shared by men, women, and the State.

    • Taking measures to address violations of women's human rights, including sexual harrassment, sexual violence, domestic violence, and commercial sexual exploitation, as well as provide stronger victim protection.
      In order to promote awareness of women's human rights and gender inequality, we recommend the development of relevant teaching and learning materials and programs for students at all educational levels. We also suggest reinforcement of social welfare services designed to counsel, protect, or care for the victims of human rights violations, as well as procedural improvements in criminal investigations and trials to ensure the full human rights protection of victims.
    • Increasing public awareness of childbearing and childcare needs to protect the maternity rights of working women.
      We recommend that maternity protection guidelines be drawn up and child care facilities expanded so as to contribute to the creation of a more family-friendly culture, lest women suffer disadvantages in employment and other areas of social life just because of their pregnancy or confinement.
    • Enacting policy measures to protect the human rights of women who are particularly vulnerable to rights violations, such as non-standard female workers, women employed in the cottage industry, female migrant workers, women with disabilities, female inmates, and women living in poverty and/or in rural areas.

    [Children and youth]
    The State should assume more responsibility in caring for and educating our children and youth.
    Under the current educational system in Korea, the inordinate focus on college entrance exam preparation has created an extraordinarily competitive learning environment for students, even those enrolled in primary schools. This problem is compounded especially for those children and youth living in poverty and/or exposed to various forms of abuse, such as bullying, and domestic and school violence, including corporal punishment administered by school officials. In addition, unequal access to child care and educational opportunities, which depends largely on family access to economic resources, adversely impacts the mental and physical development of our children and youth. In light of these problems, the Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP urges the Government to assume more responsibility for the care and education of our children and youth.

    • Reinforcing State responsibility for the care and protection of our children and youth.
      Every year approximately 10,000 children do not have access to proper care, whether as the result of poverty, running away, or their parents' divorce or death. In order to protect these children, we recommend that the State increase its authority over and regulation of foster care and other alternative family arrangements. We also suggest expansion of financial provisions and other forms of aid to support such alternative family arrangements. Additionally, we recommend that measures be taken to prevent child abuse and neglect, as well as to increase the number of child protection zones and to strengthen facility safety in order to protect children from safety hazards, accidents, and violence at school and other potentially harmful environments.
    • Enhancing basic health care and welfare services.
      We recommend improvements in health care services for children living in poverty and basic health care provisions for the children of migrant workers, as well as implementation of policies to support those children for whom health care services are not easily accessible. In addition, we suggest expansion of free school meal programs for children in need, as well as improvements in the quality and nutrition of school meals.
    • Guaranteeing disadvantaged children the right to education and increasing support for neonatal and pre-school educational services and programs.
      The Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP calls upon the Government to increase support for educational and care services for infants and pre-school children. Specifically, we recommend expanding public child care facilities, increasing no-cost educational benefits and accessibility to child care fee exemptions or reductions, and facilitating child care leave. We further encourage the Government to adopt a gradual approach toward providing no-cost secondary school education, which will substantially ease the burden of educational costs for low-income families, and devise policy measures that will curb the cut-throat competition for college entrance.
    • Empowering children to participate in decision-making processes at school and in society at large.

    [The elderly]
    An aging society demands protection of the human rights of the elderly.
    As of November 2005, persons aged 65 or older comprised 9.1% of the total population of Korea. This means that Korean society is aging at an unprecedently rapid rate. In light of this trend, we have yet to build an adequate system to protect the human rights of the elderly. The Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP places emphasis on the establishment of nursing homes for the elderly, the construction of a public health care system for the elderly, and preferential treatment for the elderly in access to permanent rental housing. We also urge that policy measures be taken to ensure an adequate standard of living for the elderly and an institutional system created to prevent elder abuse.

    • Guaranteeing the rights to housing, health, and social welfare benefits to secure an adequate standard of living for the elderly.
    • Preventing elder abuse and protecting the elderly from such abuse.

    [Persons with a history of illness]
    No person deserves unfavorable treatment just because of his or her illness or history of illness.
    The National Human Rights Commission Act specifies that unfavorable treatment based on an individual's illness or history of illness constitutes a discriminatory act that infringes on his or her right to equality. Furthermore, the UN Human Rights Committee, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) have recommended banning HIV/AIDS group testing and employment dismissal due to infection. Yet, persons with a history of illness continue to be denied their fundamental rights largely due to the social prejudice against them. Such persons often have no choice but to endure wide-spread discrimination in healthcare services. HIV/AIDS-infected persons, persons suffering from Hansen's Disease, and hepatitis-B carriers are particularly vulnerable to discrimination in Korea.

    • Revising relevant legislation to ensure that healthcare services are fully available to HIV/AIDS-infected persons and human rights violations and discrimination against them are eliminated.
      Amendments should be made to regulations that permit compulsory medical examinations, employment restrictions, name reporting, and regulation of disease transmission, as well as to provisions of the Immigration Control Act on forced deportation. In order to eliminate social prejudice against HIV/AIDS-infected persons, we encourage the promotion of HIV/AIDS education and public campaigns.
    • Measures should be taken to address and prevent the discrimination and human rights violations faced by persons suffering from Hansen's Disease.
      We encourage improvements in living conditions of the eighty-nine extremely isolated settlements where persons who have completely recovered from or who are in a non-contagious stage of Hansen's Disease live. We urge public revelation of the State-committed human rights violations against Hansen's Disease sufferers (e.g., the situation involving the Oma Island reclamation project), as well as proper compensation and reputation restoration for victims. In addition, we recommend that the Government formulate the 'Special Act on Hansen's Disease Sufferers' designed to set up welfare policy measures tailored to their reality.
    • Removing misunderstanding about and prejudice against hepatitis-B sufferers, and improving legislations and institutions to eliminate employment discrimination against persons with hepatitis-B.
      With regard to the civil service application procedure requiring applicants to indicate whether they require a hepatitis vaccination, the NHRCK recommended in October 2003 omission of this requirement in response to its possible infringement upon the rights to equality and work for hepatitis-B carriers.

    [Soldiers, riot police, and police conscripts]
    The human dignity and the right to life of soldiers, riot police officers, and police conscripts should be protected.
    Although much headway has been made in improving the conditions of military service, little progress has been made toward securing professionalism and impartiality in the investigations and handling of cases involving cruel and inhumane treatment and suspicious deaths of soldiers, riot police officers, and police conscripts. Investigations into such cases should be conducted in a complete and impartial manner, and a human rights-approach should be taken to address the underlying causes of such problems. Soldiers, riot police officers, and police conscripts should also hold a clear legal status, and be guaranteed the freedom to petition to an external authority. Also, specific military-related restrictions and regulations should be amended to the law so as to eliminate inhumane physical punishment and cruel treatment of military and police personnel.
    Moreover, human rights or grievance counselling should be made systematically available to military personnel, and the Government ought to proceed with enactment of the 'Law on the Guarantee of Soldiers' Human Rights' to protect and promote soldiers' human rights.

    [Institutional residents]
    The human rights of persons living in social welfare institutions should be guaranteed.
    According to the data released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 86,116 persons lived in 1,213 registered institutions and 21,896 persons lived in 1,209 unregistered institutions, bringing the total number of residents living under institutional care to about 110,000 persons, as of January 2005. Eighty-two percent of these institutions are designated for persons with disabilities and the elderly.
    The Government, in a bid to increase the number of residential institutions, has eased the requirements and increased its support for the establishment of social welfare institutions. Government policy measures taken in recent years to encourage the transition from unregistered to registered institutional status are an indication that the Government has taken more responsibility for and is committed to the growth of social welfare institutions and the promotion of the human rights of persons living under institutional care.
    However, there is still much that needs to be done to guarantee the human rights of persons living under deinstitutionalized or community-based care. There are persistent problems surrounded such alternative care, including human rights violations, privacy violations, institutional privatization, and accounting fraud.
    Accordingly, we recommend that the Government make legislative and operational improvements in social welfare residential institutional care and facilities to ensure the full protection of the human rights of persons living in those institutions.

    * When the controversy surrounding human rights violations in large-scale institutions emerged in the 1970s, some nations like Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Germany adopted a policy of deinstitutionalization, which shifts focus away from institutional care to community-based care.
    In 1990 the United Kingdom enacted a community care law, under which it adopted a system integrating institutional care and home-based care and undertook user-oriented policy measures.

    [Sexual minorities]
    One's sexual orientation should not be grounds for any form of discrimination.
    A 'sexual minority‘ is a person or group of a sexual orientation that is not part of the majority (i.e., heterosexual). This category includes gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered persons. Many Koreans view sexual minorities with misunderstanding and prejudice, and several provisions contained in the Penal Code and the Military Penal Code explicitly discriminate against sexual minorities. These legal provisions are incompatible with international instruments, such as the Amsterdam Treaty and the Resolution of the European Union, that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
    As such, we recommend the repeal or revision of existing laws or regulations permitting discrimination based on sexual orientation so as to facilitate the elimination of such discrimination against sexual minorities. In addition, we suggest non-disclosure of personal information of those seeking sex reassignment therapy or surgery, among other measures to be taken to prevent possible human rights violations. Bearing in mind the high cost of sex reassignment surgery, we recommend that the Government consider the possibility of including, on a gradual basis, such medical costs under national health care insurance coverage

    * In 1985 the Netherlands enacted a transsexuality law which placed the medical expense of sex reassignment surgery under medical care insurance coverage. In the United States, the City of San Francisco passed an ordinance providing city government employees financial support for sex reassignment therapy or surgery.

    [North Korean defectors]
    Those from the North have the right to live a decent life in the South.
    'North Korean defectors' ('sae-teo-min' in Korean, literally meaning 'people in a new land') are persons who departed North Korea to live in South Korea. Since the mid-1990s, the number of North Korean defectors has been on the rise, largely due to food shortages in the North. In 2002, the annual number of North Korean defectors surpassed 1,000 persons, later exceeding 7,000 persons in September 2005. They are a minority group for whom particular attention needs to be paid, expecially because of the cultural differences between South Korea and North Korea or other countries. Currently, the Government provides North Korean defectors with settlement funds, and support for housing and education under the Act Concerning Protection of and Settlement Support to North Korean Escapees. However, we believe more measures should be taken to secure the rights of and an adequate standard of living for North Korean defectors.

    • Taking measures to ensure that the human rights of North Korean defectors are protected in the re-settlement process and that they are integrated smoothly into Korean society.
      The Recommendation for the Human Rights NAP urges the Government to provide human rights education and training to those civil servants responsible for work related to North Korean defectors. The purpose of this is to prevent human rights violations and discrimination against North Korean defectors during the course of monitoring their re-settlement process, including the monitoring of their arrival, social adaptation and vocational education. We also recommend that the Government expand vocational training and job placement for North Korean defectors, undertake special protections for especially vulnerable defectors, such as family-less youth, persons with disabilities, female-headed households, and elderly persons and families, provide educational support for defectors and their children, and implement public awareness campaigns to aid defectors' adaptation to Korean society.

    * In cooperation with local governments, the former West Germany effectively dealt with the social adaptation issues of former East German defectors. For example, the West recognized all defectors' qualifications and working experiences acquired in the East.

  • Part 3. Infrastructural Development and Support for the Promotion of Human Rights

    • Protecting Civil and Political Rights
      Civil and political rights are the inalienable rights and freedoms entitled to all humans without which we cannot live with dignity. It is a comprehensive concept that includes the right to bodily safety and freedom, the right to freedom of thought and conscience, and the right to freedom of assembly and association.
      In order to protect human rights during criminal proceedings (i.e., investigations, indictments, trials, and sentencing), respect for human rights should underlie all legislation, and the statute of limitations should be excluded or suspended in the prosecution of State-sanctioned crimes against humanity or human rights violations.
      In order to expand democratic participation in political decision- and policy-making processes to an acceptable extent that is consistent with political, economic and cultural development and international standards, the range of political activities permitted for teachers and civil servants to engage in should be extended to a given limit. Also, measures should be taken to promote the right to participate in public affairs for socially disadvantaged and minority groups, and the quota for female nominations for parliamentary seats should be expanded. The right to vote for Koreans living abroad should also be recognized.
      In order to promote the freedom of expression, the right to reputation ought to be protected, while the rights to knowledge and access should be promoted. To this end, legislation and regulations regarding classified information considered critical for national security should be improved, while the right to access that enables persons to publicly express their opinions and thoughts should be expanded.
      In order to prevent human rights violations and protect the right to information, legislation protecting personal information should be devised, along with other legislative improvements. Also, an independent and specialized body ought to be created to protect personal information. Moreover, restrictions on the collection of residential identification numbers should be imposed, and Government regulations on internet contents and browsing ought to be lessened, while access to internet service should be increased for people with disabilities, the elderly, and foreigners, so as to reduce inequalities in information access.
      In order to maximize the exercise of the freedom of assembly and association, which is already clearly protected by the Constitution, the tight legal restrictions and strict administrative procedures on assemblies and demonstrations ought to be eased. In addition, the National Security Law must be repealed to protect the rights to conscience and religion. Conscientious objection to military service should be legalized and a system of alternative services adopted.
      In order to guarantee artistic freedom, Government regulation on authorship should be minimized, while its support for the promotion and dissemination of the arts increased. In order to protect the freedom to choose and change one's residence, the Security Surveillance Act must be repealed and immigration regulations made clearer. In addition, the death penalty should be abolished and the laws and institutions concerning bioethics need to be improved so as to protect the right to life and human dignity.
    • Promoting Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
      Economic, social and cultural rights refer to the rights that entitle us to the social benefits and services necessary to meet basic life needs, including the rights to adequate food, housing, healthcare, education, working conditions, social security, and culture. Every national government is obliged to guarantee for all persons an adequate standard of living.
      In order to secure the right to life, the Government needs to improve the existing system designed to guarantee an adequate standard of living for all persons, widen the scope of benefit eligibility, and raise the minimum cost-of-living index. Moreover, social insurance coverage, including the national pension plan, industrial accident compensation insurance, and employment and healthcare insurance, must be extended, in addition to other improvements in social insurance coverage, so as to ensure that no one is excluded from social insurance protection.
      In order to promote the right to work, the Government should respect labor-management autonomy and minimize intervention in labor relations. Compulsory arbitration on essential public services should be abolished and replaced with a minimum service requirement. In order to secure the rights to work and fair working conditions, the provisions of the Labor Standards Act should be extended to cover employees of companies employing four persons or less. The minimum wage system should be improved, the industrial accidents system should be enhanced, and labor inspection should be reinforced.
      In order to promote the right to health, public access to medical care needs to be increased and a range of adequate and efficient medical services provided. And, in order to guarantee the right to choose one's residence, proper compensation and alternative housing should be provided for persons affected by forced demolitions. Additionally, institutional programs should be implemented to deal with residences that do not meet minimum housing standards and ought to guarantee such residents adequate housing standards.
      In order to promote the right to education, educational opportunities should be expanded for children of disadvantaged groups, including low-income families, persons with disabilities, North Korean defectors, migrant workers, and families living in rural areas. A range of educational opportunities, including alternative schools, distance learning and fixed-term courses, should be offered to children and youth excluded from access to standard educational institutions as well as to adults seeking to continue their education.
      In order to promote the right to culture, the disparity in the ability to exercise the right to culture for different regional communities needs to be resolved, and cultural awareness and diversity increased. And, in order to guarantee the right to environment, the Government must protect the rights to life and health, while pursuing sustainable growth.
    • Reinforcing Human Rights Education
      Human rights education is aimed at enhancing social understanding and awareness of human rights and creating behavioral patterns and attitudes that support the protection and promotion of human rights. In order to enhance the respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and foster understanding of and sensitivity to human dignity and worth, human rights lessons should be integrated into compulsory school curricula at all grade levels. In addition, a variety of teaching and learning methods and materials need to be developed, while fostering a human rights-friendly class environment. And, in order to prevent human rights violations committed by public office-holders, human rights educational curricula and courses should be integrated into public officer training and institutes. Effective programs and materials for human rights education must also be developed, and human rights education should be made a prerequisite course in training and educational centers for military personnel. Furthermore, in order to promote human rights in civil society, human rights education must be provided for socially disadvantaged and minority groups. The Government must work out ways to support and facilitate human rights education in the corporate sector, as well as activate human rights public awareness campaigns via advertisements and other mass media channels.
    • Establishing Domestic and International Cooperation Networks for the Promotion of Human Rights
      With an eye toward empowering civil society, the Government must provide legal and institutional support for all sectors of civil society and undertake measures to strengthen the capacities of civic groups. In order to position itself as a responsible member of the international community and contribute to the globalization of human rights, the Government should create cooperation networks with international and regional human rights organizations, as well as make necessary amendments to laws and regulations to enable and expand foreign aid programs, including Overseas Development Aids (ODA). Moreover, in order to implement international human rights law within the framework of national law and strengthen human rights protection to a level acceptable by international standards, national legislation and regulations need to be streamlined, and interaction and cooperation with international human rights organizations secured. The major international human rights instruments, including the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women should be signed and ratified, and reservations in the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should be withdrawn and the individual complaint/communication scheme accepted.
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