The Korea Herald


Human rights watchdog welcomes government’s decision to maintain refugee law

By Jo He-rim

Published : Aug. 7, 2018 - 17:07

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The National Human Rights Commission on Tuesday welcomed the government’s response that the country would not abolish the refugee law and called for further efforts to reduce prejudice against refugees.

In a statement, the commission’s chief Lee Seong-ho said it is the “responsibility” of a member state of the international society to accept refugees in the country. It called on the government to review the low acceptance rate of refugees and to hire more officials to review refugee status applications. 

National Human Rights Commission (Yonhap) National Human Rights Commission (Yonhap)
“The policy that checks on the social network services accounts of the refugees and regularly reviews their refugee status are not measures that reduce Korean nationals’ fear of refugees, they are excessive screening. Therefore, the government should be careful in continuing the policy,” Lee said in the statement.

The human rights watchdog also urged the government to make more efforts to eliminate bias and prejudices against refugees.

“People should be careful not to judge refugees based on their nationality and religion and accept groundless or exaggerated information, looking down on them,” the statement read.

The presidential office delivered its response on Aug. 1 to an online petition demanding the government abolish the refugee law and stop granting refugee status to asylum seekers.

More than 710,000 people signed the petition within a month after it was posted on the presidential office’s website on June 13.

Korea is a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and became the first country in Asia to establish and enact its own Refugee Act in 2013.

In a video, Justice Minister Park Sang-ki appeared to respond to the petition, saying it is difficult for the country to abandon its si gnatory status and abolish the refugee law when taking national interest into consideration.

But he said the government would make sure to prevent fake asylum seekers from abusing the law to obtain refugee status, by implementing measures such as strict screenings and regular inspections of applicants’ social network services accounts.

By Jo He-rim (