Seoul Police have moved to reassure foreign nationals who are in Korea illegally that they can report crimes without being reported to immigration.
In a letter from Seoul Metropolitan Police Commissioner Kim Jung-hoon released by the Filipino Embassy, the city police chief said he was concerned by a lack of awareness about the system, which began in 2013.
(Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency)
“We are especially focusing on the issues of undocumented immigrants whose human rights are violated by being hesitant to report to the police even when they are victims of crime, due to their legal status,” he said.
“With this system approximately 460 undocumented foreigners received the help of the police. However, I am concerned that many still do not know about this system and are scared to report to the police, even when they are victims of a crime.”
The city police department told The Korea Herald that the policy did not necessarily apply if the person reporting was identified as a suspect.
It also did not apply to those whose undocumented status was uncovered as part of an immigration crackdown or while being questioned as a witness as part of an investigation into a crime reported by someone else. However, police said that victims who make crime reports would not be reported to immigration, even during crackdowns.
The police department said that it could not confirm if the 460 people who made reports under the system since 2013 showed an increase, as statistics were not collated before that time to allow a comparison.
When contacted by The Korea Herald, local police substations that generally deal with minor issues were unaware of the policy, but the larger police stations that deal with most crimes were aware of it.
By Paul Kerry (firstname.lastname@example.org
)Intern reporter Byun Hee-jin contributed to this report. – Ed.