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Park regressed on human rights: Amnesty Int'l

The second year of President Park Geun-hye's administration showed a regressive trend in the realization of human rights, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

In its annual report, the global human rights group said various concerns surfaced, including barriers to the freedom of assembly and expression, as well as the government's increasing restriction to the freedom of expression by using the National Security Law to intimidate and imprison people.

Amnesty said that the Seoul government continued its use of the draconian anti-North Korean National Security Law, which bans any "anti-state" activities that attempt to promote North Korea's political ideas.

Amnesty previously described the law, which was enacted in 1948, as "one of the most important human rights issues in South Korea."

The report covering 2014 said that at least 32 people were charged for violations of the law in the first eight months of the year.

The figure was less than in 2013, when 129 people were investigated or charged under the law, the highest number in a decade, but remained a matter of great concern, according to the report.

The report also mentioned that a former leftist lawmaker, Lee Seok-ki, was imprisoned along with six other Unified Progressive Party members for "conspiracy to revolt," "inciting a revolt," and activities deemed to violate the security law.

The report said the Constitution Court's decision to disband the UPP goes against the basic democratic order.

Amnesty also said that further concerns were raised on issues such as disaster response effectiveness and the impartiality of investigations following the deaths of more than 300 people, many of them students, in the accidental sinking of the Sewol ferry in April 2014.

Regarding rail union strikes and the government's decision to outlaw a progressive teachers' union, Amnesty said the rights of workers were violated through the denial of freedom. (Yonhap)