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SOUTH KOREA – Government to minimise the ability of human rights commission

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South Korea's Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS) plans to minimise the scale of its national human rights commission for "organisational efficiency". Human rights organisations expressed concerns that the proposed restructuring will reduce the ability of the commission to fulfil its mandate as an independent and effective human rights institution.

On 4 March 2009, the Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) sent a letter to the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of National Human Rights Institutions, expressing concerns over government interference in the structure of South Korea's national commission.

The changes will reduce the commission's staff from 208 to 146, with those recruited from civil society and the academe losing out to civil servants. The ministry is also planning to close three regional offices of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK), limiting the ability of victims of human rights violations living outside Seoul to access complaint mechanisms.

The International Coordinating Committee is able to take action, such as expressing warnings, when a national human rights institution is under threat. The NGOs' network urged the committee to publicise these developments and recommended the intervention of other national human rights institutions.

To read their complete letter, please click here (.pdf).