The Korea Herald

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Detention of foreigners ordered deportation to be limited to 3 yrs

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : April 16, 2024 - 16:44

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Picture of Justice Ministry building. (The Korea Herald/ Yoo Dong-hyun) Picture of Justice Ministry building. (The Korea Herald/ Yoo Dong-hyun)

Foreigners who are ordered to leave South Korea because they have been in the country illegally or have committed a crime will have to be deported within 36 months starting next year.

The Justice Ministry has proposed an amendment to the Immigration Act that would limit the maximum period of accommodating foreigners ordered with compulsory evacuation to 36 months.

This follows the Constitutional Court's decision in March of last year that the indefinite detention of foreigners subject to deportation is unconstitutional because it unduly restricts their physical freedom.

The current law stipulates that if a foreigner subject to a deportation order cannot be repatriated immediately for reasons such as not having a passport or not having transportation, they can be placed in a shelter until they can be repatriated. As of last year, there were 34,580 foreigners in protective custody under deportation orders.

"In line with the Constitutional Court's decision, the Ministry of Justice sought to remove the unconstitutionality of the current regulations and strengthen the guarantee of the fundamental rights of foreigners subject to deportation orders," the ministry said.

With the amendment in place, if a person who has received a deportation order cannot be immediately repatriated from Korea, the local immigration and foreign affairs offices may provide protection for 18 months. An additional 18 months can be added if the person does not cooperate with repatriation.

The Justice Ministry will also establish a review committee for foreigners in protection to independently deliberate their opinions regarding the expansion or legality of the protection and guarantee the fundamental rights of protected foreigners.