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Human rights watchdog vows to root out abuse in sports, hate speech

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea will proactively seek to eradicate physical and sexual abuse in the sports community and hate speech this year, the human rights watchdog agency said Tuesday.

“One of our goals for this year is to make public the issue of hate speech and set up a special committee to raise awareness about hatred and discrimination,” Choi Young-ae, the chief of National Human Rights Commission of Korea, said during a New Year’s press conference held at the commission headquarters in Seoul.

“Hate and discriminatory speech are a social issue rather than a personal one that stems from social and structural problems. Anyone can be subject to such (offensive) speech,” Choi added.

National Human Rights Commission of Korea Commissioner Choi Young-ae speaks during a New Year’s press conference in Seoul. (NHRCK)
National Human Rights Commission of Korea Commissioner Choi Young-ae speaks during a New Year’s press conference in Seoul. (NHRCK)

A special committee will be set up later this month as the first step to counter hate speech that has recently been targeted at women, elderly, refugees and sexual minorities.

A 20-member committee will lay the groundwork to enact a law by 2020 prohibiting discrimination.

According to Choi, the special committee would aim to follow in the footsteps of Norway, where relevant ministries have cooperated in countering such social issues.

“Benchmarking Norway, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Justice Ministry, Korean National Police Agency and Korea Communications Commission, among others, have agreed to jointly deal with the issue of hatred and discrimination,” Choi said.

The commission would narrow down and investigate the relevant issues, and its findings would be dealt in detail by the ministry in charge.

Among the commission’s major goals for this year are forming a team to counter hatred and discrimination; operating a special investigation team on human rights in the sports community; revamping policies on social minority protection and operating an on-site human rights counseling centers at police stations.

Following snowballing sexual violence allegations in the sports community, a special investigation team aimed at eradicating physical and sexual violence in sports is slated to kick off later this month.

The 17-member team, mandated to operate for one year, is to focus on fact-finding, forming a database on related cases and helping victims receive legal assistance, the commission said.

By Kim Bo-gyung (