[Joint Statement] Commissioner Kim Yong-won, Who ridiculously Claimed that the Release of the Report that Acknowledged the Suppression Case of Corporal Chae is Illegal, is not Qualified to be a Human Rights Commissioner

by | Jun 17, 2024 | Free Speech, Press Release | 0 comments

A senior human rights commissioner Kim Yong-won at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has crossed the line. He has been threatening to find out who is behind the disclosure of the investigative reports and meetings following the law and procedures. This discourages information disclosure by exerting power over employees, which can infringe on citizens’ right to know.

The Center for Military Human Rights Korea (CMHRK) filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) last August to seek remediation for Colonel Park Jung-hoon, who was investigated for insubordination while investigating the death of Corporal Chae. The CMHRK requested the report of the investigation into the case. On May 22, the NHRC released the information following the Official Information Disclosure Act. The report acknowledged that Colonel Park Jung-hoon faced unfair external pressure. However, despite these findings, the complaint was dismissed, leading to suspicions of arbitrary summary dismissal by Commissioner Kim Young-won. He then claimed that the disclosure of the investigation report was “illegal.” He said that according to Article 49 of the National Human Rights Commission Act, the report of the investigation into the complaint cannot be released without a resolution of the NHRC.

However, Article 49 only provides for non-disclosure during the investigation, mediation, and deliberation process to ensure that human rights violation complaints are properly investigated, and even then, the information can be disclosed upon a decision by the NHRC. The Official Information Disclosure Act allows for the non-disclosure of “information that is in the decision-making process or internal review process and that, if disclosed, would significantly interfere with the fair conduct of business or research and development.” However, the report has already been investigated, adjusted, and reviewed. It is not subject to disclosure under the National Human Rights Commission Act for the Official Information Disclosure Act.

It has been 25 years since the Official Information Disclosure Act was passed in South Korea. According to the Act, all public information is open to the public, and there is no reason to withhold reports that have been investigated and completed by public organizations. Rather, all public information should be actively disclosed to ensure accountability, correct problems, and verify that investigations and decisions are justified. Furthermore, disclosure of NHRC meetings and minutes is a long-standing demand of domestic and international civil society organizations to ensure that NHRC decisions are not based on the personal biases of NHRC members rather than on human rights standards and to increase access to human rights issues It was even recommended by the NHRC’s Innovation Committee in 2017.

Nevertheless, 20 days after the report’s release, Commissioner Kim Yong-won continues to hamper the NHRC’s ability to fulfill its mandate. He ridiculously claims that he should be the one to decide whether or not to release the information. The right to know is a universal right that cannot be measured differently for different people.

The NHRC is dedicated to safeguarding and advancing the fundamental human rights of all individuals. However, rather than upholding these rights, Commissioner Kim Yong-won is violating them. Kim Yong-won is threatening employees for disclosing public information and suppressing the right to know. He should resign from his position immediately.

June 14, 2024

Article 21 Net

Korean version text


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