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South Korea's Restrictions On Freedom Of Speech Get Criticized By United Nations Rights Official

By January 30, 2016 at 12:47 pm
South Korea's Restrictions On Freedom Of Speech Get Criticized By United Nations Rights Official (Photo : Chung Sung-Jun | Getty Images News)

SOUTH KOREA - Everyone has the right to express themselves in whatever forms they think is appropriate as long as they do not go beyond what is deemed to be immoral. But South Korea may have placed too many restrictions on freedom of speech, prompting a United Nations rights official to criticize the country on its treatment towards protesters.

Maina Kiai, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, said in an press conference on Friday that the Korean authorities were too restrictive when it came to the citizens' rights to free speech and public assembly.

He raised the issue on how the government used its law and public force to hold down people who make demonstrations and do peaceful assemblies. He also pointed out the lack of communication channels between the authorities and citizens, The Korea Herald reports.

"I heard government officials repeatedly cite people's 'inconvenience' as a rationale for restricting protests," Kiai said. "They have also cited security challenges (from North Korea) as a reason for limiting rights. But they should not be an excuse for unduly limiting rights."

Staying in Korea from Jan. 21 to 29, the Kenyan human rights activist and lawyer met Second Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul in Seoul on Thursday. He also met other government officials "from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Employment and Labor, National Police Agency and National Human Rights Commission," The Korea Times reports.

During his stay, he spared time to meet different groups that advocate and support disabled people, human rights, labor rights, sexual minorities and other concerning issues.

Working as a special rapporteur, Kiai will reportedly submit an evaluation report on his stay in Korea to the U.N. Human Rights Council by June.

"We hope the U.N. gets a correct, objective and balanced view on Korea through Kiai's findings," said Cho June-hyuck, foreign ministry spokesman.

Despite his perceptions toward the nation's freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, Kiai is confident that South Korea will do measures to solve the issue.

"I am confident that the government has the capacity to get it right," he said.

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