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Communications on Dec. 14, 2001

2009.08.24 11:57

Views:8548

* Prominent Social and Religion Leading Figures Urge Government for Prompt Normalization of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea

On Dec. 6, 29 prominent social and religion leading figures including His Excellency Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan and Venerable Song Wol-ju of Buddhist Chogye Order made public a joint statement regarding the National Human Rights Commission of Korea and urged the government for prompt normalization of its operation.
"Establishment of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea gave us hope and expectation to ameliorate the dark situation of human rights of the people. However, its operation is crippled from the beginning due to the lack of clear-cut institutional structure. After six months of preparation for the operation of the Commission nothing is ready. We think this is due to the indifference of government in human rights of people and selfish control of certain political agencies." the statement pointed out.
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea, an independent government body that works to protect the human rights of the people in a quasi-judicial capacity, was established by the Human Rights Commission Act on Apr. 30, 2001 and started receiving complaints about violations on the human rights from Nov. 26.
The Commission is mandated to receive and investigate complaints about violations on the human rights committed both by the public and the private sectors. However, the Commission has not been able to perform its statutory function of investigating the complaints, although it began receiving them, because the legislation process for its operational, structural and staff matters has not been completed.
As a result, the Commission has been operating in a strictly limited capacity, with neither a secretariat nor an official building. No financial or human resources have been provided so far.
Touching on the commission's operation, Choi Young-ae, who heads the preparatory taskforce, said in a new conference held on the occasion of Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, 2001 that up until now, the 11 commissioners and the 30-member taskforce had received as many as 682 complaints in two weeks from Nov. 26, and it conducted three on-site visits to detention facilities and held a public hearing on the government's anti-terrorism bill.


* Cardinal Kim Celebrated Year-end Mass for Catholic Lawmakers

His Excellency Stephen Cardinal Kim celebrated year-end Mass for Catholic lawmakers at the National Assembly Building, Yeouido, Seoul, on Dec. 5.
In His homily the Cardinal Kim said "our Constitution stipulates the equality and dignity of human person. This is because the mankind is created in the image of God and God-given human rights, therefore this justice has to be reflected in overall of the process of legislation and execution of laws. The electorate might be very important for you the lawmakers, but, if you do your work with concern for the poor and the marginalized people from the society, then, our country will become a good place to live."”
Some 20 Catholic lawmakers including Rep. Lee Man-seop, the Speaker, Rep. Lee Hoi-chang, President of the Grand National Party, participated to the Mass.


* The Catholic Church's Aid to North Korea Diversified

The initiatives of the Catholic Church in Korea to give aid to North Korea, started in 1995, are diversified from simple food aid into various activities such as supporting the development of "super maize", providing potato seed, granting medical vehicles with vaccines and planting trees in North Korea and so on.
The Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People of each diocese and organizations of religious institutes also will make efforts to support and help the immigrants from the North to adjust themselves to this society as the number of such people exceeds 500 up to this year.
These changes were confirmed through reports of the involved organizations at the 4th Catholic Network for the Reconciliation of Korean People, which was held in Seoul sponsored by the Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People of the CBCK(President: Most Rev. Peter Kang) on Dec. 5-6.
According to the reports, the Korean Reunification Committee of Seoul Archdiocese showed the most lively activities giving aid of 9,806,300,000 won(US$7,540,000) since 1995. Other dioceses also conducted various activities such as support for growing potatoes and potato seed; development of super-corn foundation; food aid for kindergartens and day care centers; granting medicines and medical equipments and support for the immigrants from the North etc.
During the meeting, some 70 participants heard lectures from Rev. Daniel O'Keeffe(Reg. Sup. of the Missionary Society of St. Columban), Lee In-jeong, an immigrant from the North, and Dr. Kim Sun-kwon, the chief director of the International Corn Foundation and had time for group discussion concerning the evangelization of the North and further step to aid the North.
The participants also made propositions as follows; to build network among diocesan committees and organizations of religious institutes for information sharing; to intensify the seed aid and support for agricultural development of the North; to establish Missionary Center for North Korea(provisional name); to form lay groups to help the immigrants from the North and open a hotline for them.
Responding to these suggestions, Rev. Paul Han(Executive Secretary of the Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People of the CBCK) promised to reform the magazine titled "Reconciliation and Sharing" to facilitate the information sharing and to separate the existent Subcommittee for the Immigrants from the North into two subcommittees for refugees and for immigrants from the North respectively aimed for systematic pastoral ministry for such people.
The Most Rev. Peter Kang said "we should find the true meaning of evangelization of the North in comprehending North Koreans as our brothers and sisters, not in providing one-way support or favor", and asked participants to embrace the immigrants from the North in Gospel as well as to work in solidarity among groups.


* Countermeasures for Unemployment of Young People is Urged

The Pastoral Commission for Labor of the Archdiocese of Seoul(Dir.: Rev. Paul Yong) warned of the worsening labor situation in Korea. On Dec. 8, the Commission issued "Our Observations on the Recent Labor Problems" and declared "systematic and comprehensive measures are necessary to counter unemployment of young people and increase of irregular jobs, and to deal with the human rights of foreign workers".
In the document, the Commission pointed out that the unemployment rate of young people is 8.6%, far higher than 3% as recently announced by the Government, and emphasized "if there are many young people who are ready to have jobs in cultural, technical and professional aspects but can not find jobs, our future can not be bright".
It also expressed concern over the trend of increasing irregular hiring caused by the excessive free market policy, saying "this form of hiring would worsen income structure, dividing our society into two extreme categories, the few haves and the rest have-nots".
For some 500,000 foreign workers in Korea, the Commission listed the absence of legal protective device and inhuman treat of employers as the main causes for the abuse of their human rights and dignity.
The Commission called for prompt settlement of the labor problems based on the principles of human dignity, of common good, and of subsidiary function and warned against serious consequences that the problems would bring about if they remained unsettled.
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