The Seoul city government said Wednesday it will open a center to protect the rights of disabled people and toughen punishment against rights violators.
The center for the rights of citizens with disabilities is set to open on Thursday in southern Seoul as part of the measures aimed at safeguarding the rights of the underprivileged.
The center, to be supported by a group of a dozen lawyers, will be tasked with providing legal services for the disabled, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
The city will also push to introduce a jury system for cases involving rights violations, with more than half of its members to be people with a disability.
Their opinions will be the basis of possible punitive administrative measures, according to the city.
The city will also levy tougher punishment against welfare facilities involved in malpractice, including cancellation of their license, its officials said. Currently, the strictest measure is the dismissal of the chief of such a facility.
The municipal government also plans to launch a commission in July on the promotion of disabled people's rights which will be tasked with assessing the city's relevant policy measures.
The city also vowed to set up more facilities supporting employment and job training for the disabled, and to provide subsidies for settlement.
"The welfare plan aims to proactively support disabled people to help them enjoy their rights without any discrimination. We will put it into practice over the next five years in phases," said Kang Jong-phil, a city official in charge of welfare policy.
As of the end of 2011, 2.68 million people, or 5.61 percent of the entire population in South Korea, had some form of disability, according to government data.
There have been growing calls for efforts to guarantee the rights of the disabled, particularly after a local box-office hit titled "Dogani" in 2011 shed light on the true story of teachers at a school for the disabled in the southwestern city of Gwangju committing repeated sex crimes against hearing-impaired students. (Yonhap)