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Minor party slams ministry for detaining Mongolian 3-year-old

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : June 14, 2023 - 18:35

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This screen grab of a surveillance camera footage shows a 3-year-old Mongolian child (left) and his 22-year-old father on April 19 detained in an immigration detention facility in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province (Courtesy of Advocates for Public Interest Law) This screen grab of a surveillance camera footage shows a 3-year-old Mongolian child (left) and his 22-year-old father on April 19 detained in an immigration detention facility in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province (Courtesy of Advocates for Public Interest Law)

Minor progressive Jinbo Party blasted the Justice Ministry for detaining a 3-year-old Mongolian child for more than two weeks before his deportation in April, and failing to provide sufficient medical care when the child became ill.

Accusing the ministry of child abuse and human rights violations, the party said in a statement Wednesday that the case reflects Yoon Suk Yeol administration's hardline stance "inciting bigotry toward foreign migrants."

The child was detained for a total of 18 days, three of them underground, along with his 22-year-old father, who was staying in Korea without a valid visa.

The father, whose further identity was not revealed, had reportedly been working in Korea for over 2 years to pay off hospital costs for his son, who was born in Korea prematurely.

The boys parents were visiting Korea on a trip, but ended up having the baby in Korea due to strict measures against COVID-19 in Mongolia that stopped them from returning home. Soon after childbirth, the man's girlfriend reportedly ran away.

The man was given visa extensions, but began working illegally to pay necessary costs.

The man was caught in April by the police while driving without a license, according to the Justice Ministry.

The man and his child were sent to an underground shelter for three days under quarantine measures and spent the next 15 days at the immigration detention center in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. The child suffered stomach pains and saw a pediatrician twice during the detention, but the family's request for temporary release on bail was not accepted.

On the 17th day of detention, the child's health became worse and he had trouble eating. With the help of a friend, the father then filed a complaint on April 19 with the National Human Rights Commission to have the child released.

A day later, the two were sent to Incheon Airport to be extradited.

The Justice Ministry said Wednesday there were no instances of illegal treatment concerning the Mongolian family.

It added it was not aware of the man's complaint with the NHRC at the time of their extradition and that the child's condition was not deemed severe enough to warrant granting bail.

According to Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, the 6-year-old child of a Moroccan mother was also held in a detention center in Incheon for about 20 days last month.

The indefinite detention of children and disabled people subject to deportation was ruled unconstitutional in March. The Constitutional Court's decision will go into effect in 2025.