Moon calls for new 'globalized' standards to protect human rights

By Yonhap

Published : Dec 7, 2017 - 17:53
Updated : Dec 7, 2017 - 18:13

President Moon Jae-in on Thursday called for efforts to upgrade the country's human rights standards to the global level, also stressing the need to better protect the basic rights of military conscripts and those who refuse to serve based on their religious or other beliefs.

The call came in a meeting with officials from the Human Rights Commission, including HRC chief Lee Sung-ho, at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

This photo, taken on Jan. 23, 2017, shows Lee Sung-ho, the chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, presiding over a meeting in Seoul. (Yonhap)

"President Moon said the rights commission must actively make new suggestions to implement international standards on human rights in the country and to bring the level of local standards to that of international standards," Moon's chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan told a press briefing.

"He also expressed hope the HRC would propose new standards and alternative measures for conscientious objectors and the possible abolition of capital punishment based on international standards," he added.

Conscientious objectors refer to those who refuse to serve the mandatory military service due to their religious or other beliefs. Many have noted a need to allow such persons to serve in other public sectors instead, but most are currently prosecuted under the law.

Thursday's meeting included a special report from the HRC officials that marked the first of its kind in nearly six years, according to the Cheong Wa Dae official.

"President Moon asked for efforts to turn the Republic of Korea into a human rights nation, citing the need for the HRC to enhance its own status to become a national symbol of human rights," Yoon said.

Lee, the HRC chief, stressed a need to set up a new, improved system to protect human rights under a new environment, noting the related laws have not been modified over the past three decades.

In particular, he noted the need for legal revisions to allow or require education on human rights and increased government support for protection, Yoon said.

The president expressed support for a new system and asked the rights commission to spearhead the move to create a new legal basis for better protection of human rights, he added.

The president also called for efforts to better protect human rights in the military, including the establishment of a new organization within the rights commission to specifically deal with abuses of service members.

Human rights violations against conscripts often make headlines in the country where all able-bodied males are required to serve 21 months in the military.

Moon's call follows a high-profile case where a four-star Army general was accused of bullying and harassing service members assigned to his official residence. The general, Park Chan-ju, has been indicted on corruption charges. (Yonhap)


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