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Human rights watchdog sees little need to improve Park's prison cell

South Korea's human rights watchdog said Tuesday there is little need for improvement in the prison cell of ousted President Park Geun-hye who recently claimed to be held in poor conditions.

The National Human Rights Commission has reached the conclusion based on the on-site inspection it carried out of her confinement in the Seoul Detention Center last month, according to a parliamentary report it submitted to a lawmaker.

Park has been held in prison on bribery and other charges since late March this year.


The inspection came after an international lawyers' group claiming to represent Park accused the South Korean authorities in October of human rights violations. It said the former president is in a cell that is "dirty, cold and constantly lit so she cannot sleep."

The NHRC said Park's cell has three windows -- two on the outer wall and one on the corridor side -- that enable enough air and sunlight to come through. The room is designed to heat up if the temperature falls below 18 C.

"The wall and floor were observed to be generally in clean conditions," the report said. "However, the inspection failed to check the sanitary conditions in the toilet since entry was forbidden," it noted.

The NHRC report said the authorities provided her with an extra mattress since she complained about severe back pain. They also gave her a chair as she told them she is not used to sitting on the floor and that she cannot sit there to read court papers that exceed 100,000 pages.

The detention center apparently told the watchdog that it plans to change the light to one that is dimmer to help alleviate her sleeping problems.

The NHRC said it plans to further review the case based on international standards if a petition regarding her imprisonment is officially filed. (Yonhap)