Calls to Strengthen Human Rights Education for South Korean Lawmakers
East Asia and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
The South Korean Human Rights Commission announced on the 18th that it recommended that the National Assembly members and their aides to strengthen their human rights education, highlighting their obligation to increase their human rights competency (Park, 2023). The Commission has pointed out that there have been numerous complaints to them about the National Assembly, on their demeaning and discriminatory behaviour and attitude to the underprivileged (Park, 2023). The National Assembly have been accused of sexual violence and harassment, and discriminatory remarks towards women, disabled peoples, and foreigners (Park, 2023).
In December of last year, lawmaker Park Wan-Joo was prosecuted on charges of forcibly harassing an aide, and in 2020, former Democratic Party leader Lee Hae-chan came under fire for claiming that “disabled people are innately weak-willed” (Park, 2023).
According to the National Human Rights Education Survey conducted by the National Human Rights Commission last year, the rate of completion of compulsory education on the four major types of violence (sexual harassment, prostitution, sexual violence, and domestic violence), was found to be very low for members of the National Assembly (Park, 2023). The Human Rights Commission said that lawmakers and their aides are no exception to the statutory compulsory education, and ordered the Secretary General of the National Assembly to establish a “human rights education course” in the National Assembly Training Institute (Park, 2023). Representatives of each political party were asked to pledge their obligation to complete human rights education in their party regulations and ethics regulations (Park, 2023).
In international human rights law, discrimination is a violation of Article 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which South Korea ratified in 1990 (Ratification Status by Country). Thus, human rights education for lawmakers must be encouraged so that the right to protection against discrimination is better ensured within the country.
Sources and further reading:
Kim Yubin, “인권위 “국회의원 인권교육 강화해야”” (세계일보, January 18, 2023) <https://www.segye.com/newsView/20230118518796?OutUrl=naver> accessed January 18, 2023.
“Ratification Status by Country” (United Nations Human Rights Treaty Body Database) <https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=141&Lang=EN> accessed January 18, 2023.