The Work of the NHRCK’s
‘Human Rights Protector for Military’ Begins
- A step forward to protect and promote the rights of military personnel -
- The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (Chairperson Doohwan Song, hereinafter the ‘NHRCK’ or the ‘Commission’) held an event celebrating the establishment of the office of ‘Human Rights Protector for Military’. The Human Rights Protector for Military launches investigations on the cases of human rights violation and discrimination in military and provides corrective measures and policy recommendations, if necessary.
The NHRCK Chairperson Doohwan Song, the head of the Presidential Truth Commission on Deaths in the Military Kichun Song, the Human Rights Protector for Military Chanun Park, the member of the Democratic Party of Korea Sungjun Jeon, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Defense Beomchul Shin, the head of the Center for Military Human Rights Korea Taehoon Lim, the Active Commissioner at the Catholic Human Rights Commission Dukjin Kim and the families of soldiers who have passed away due to the incidents in the military, including Ms. Mija Ahn, Mr. Joowan Lee, Ms. Misook Park and Mr. O-ik Hwang, attended the ceremony.
“I send my deepest condolences to the victims of human rights violence which unfolded in the military and the family members of the victims who were affected by the incidents,” said Chairperson Song, at the event. The Chairperson also vowed to “make efforts to have the ‘human rights-friendly culture’ flourish in military bases,” through the newly-established ‘Bureau of Human Rights in Military’.
“I express my utmost respect and gratitude to the victims of human rights violation in military and their families for their efforts to have the Bureau of Human Rights in Military launched at the NHRCK,” said Chanun Park, the first Human Rights Protector for Military. “I feel heavy responsibility in taking this position and I will do my best to protect the rights of military personnel in Korea,” added the Human Rights Protector for Military.
- The discussion on introducing Human Rights Protector for Military began from the incident widely known to the public as the ‘Private First Class Yoon Incident’, which occurred in April 2014. Private Yoon passed away at the military base, due to the harsh treatments from his seniors, including beating. Due to this case, the necessity to establish a governmental institution that is in charge of addressing human rights issues in military was raise and since then, the efforts have been made to have the office of the Human Rights Protector for Military launched.
The necessity to have an institution mandated to respond to human rights violation in military was further raised by the public and the civil society with the ‘sexual assault incident’ in an Air Force base in May 2021. With the demand from the public and civil society, the partial amendment on the ’National Human Rights Commission of Korea Act’, which laid basis to launch the office of the Human Rights Protector for Military and gave mandate to conduct its task, was passed at the National Assembly in December 2021. This led to the establishment of the office of Human Rights Protector for Military in July 2022.
- With the establishment of the Human Rights Protector for Military, the Commission made three divisions under the Bureau of Human Rights in Military, which are Division of Human Rights Affairs in Military, Division of Human Rights Investigation in Military and Division of Human Rights Promotion in Military. 25 staff are tasked to systematically approach human rights issues in military and ensure the protection and promotion of the rights of military personnel.
The Commission plans to take human rights in military into higher level with more staff and strengthened organization to conduct such tasks as responding to sexual assault cases in military bases, ex-officio and on-site investigations on serious human rights violence in military, holding regular counseling sessions, developing expertise on human rights education in military, providing adequate remedies to the victims and their families and formulating measures to further protect human rights in military.
The Human Rights Protector for Military(Vice Ministry-Level) is a position held by one of the commissioners of the NHRCK, who was appointed by the President of the Republic of Korea pursuant to the Article 50(2) of the ‘National Human Rights Commission of Korea Act’. Commissioner Chanun Park will be the first Human Rights Protector for Military until the end of his tenure in Jaunary 2023. Protector Park held the first ‘Commission on the Human Rights in Military’ and was briefed on the ‘core projects on the area of Human Rights in Military’.
With the Human Rights Protector for Military commencing his work, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea will once again remind itself that there were victims of human rights violation in military that made the launch of the office of the Human Rights Protector for Military possible. The Commission will do its utmost to prevent the occurrence of human rights violation cases in military bases.