Recommendation on Improving the Human Rights Situation in Immigration Protection Facilities (Immigration Detention Facilities)
NHRCK recommended improving the overall environment of facilities to prevent
the violation of the detainees’ rights, following the on-site investigations -
The National Human Rights Commission of
Korea (hereinafter the ‘NHRCK’ or the ‘Commission’) conducted on-site
investigation on immigration protection facilities in Hwaseong, Incheon, Seoul,
Cheongju and Yeosu from September to October 2021. Following the investigation,
the NHRCK recommended the Minister of Justice to implement improved policies
and systems to promote the rights of the detainees and prevent human rights
The Commission has been conducting annual
on-site investigation on immigration detention facilities in Korea, pursuant to
the Article 24 (Visits and Investigation of Facilities) of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea Act, with
aims to prevent ill treatment against foreigners who are virtually deprived of
physical freedom in administrative detention pursuant to the Immigration Control Act; to advance the
standards for rights and treatment of detained foreigners; and to turn the
‘detention-oriented’ facilities into ‘protection-orientated’ and human
In 2021, the Commission visited immigration
detention facilities in Hwaseong, Incheon, Cheongju and Yeosu to investigate
the human rights situations in these facilities, including the detention
environment and treatment in general for the detainees, the detainees’ right to
health and medical treatment, right of privacy and human dignity, right to
external communication and access to information, reasonable accommodation for
people under vulnerable conditions, and the treatment for people in prolonged
Based on the findings, the NHRCK recommended the following to the Minister of Justice.
The Environment of Immigration Detention Facilities
- To observe the
minimum standard for personal living space and to consider the possibility of
suspending detention temporarily or permanently with a view to preventing the
risk of damaging human dignity and value of detainees from overcrowded
detention during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- To set a
principle that the possession of personal belongings should not be limited and,
if necessary, the restriction of possession should be based on law.
- To add more
personal lockers in detention area and to allow for more variety and quantity
in the items which can be brought into the facilities.
- To set a principle that detainees should
wear plain clothes, and to amend the
Foreigners Protection Rule and other relevant regulations to provide
detainees with uniforms upon the request from the detainees.
- To ensure at least an hour of
outdoor exercise for the detainees and to take measures to guarantee exercise
time for every detainee in the pandemic situation.
- To provide guide books explaining
the rules at the facilities and the access to counseling and remedies and to
update the directory of refugee support groups for asylum seekers in need of
1. Right to
Health and Medical Care
- To take measures for the detainees
to access medical treatment in and outside of the facilities, to enhance the
emergency medical treatment system including medical staff, to further develop
external medical institutions where the detainees can access to medical
treatment and to consider suspending detention temporarily for the detainees
with chronic illness.
- To set up standards on using
handcuffs on the detainee when he or she is receiving medical treatment located
at the outside of the facility.
- To introduce psychological tests or
depression scale assessment for the mental health of detainees, and to consider
offering the detainees consulting and treatment sessions with psychiatrists as
well as the temporary suspension of detention for detainees in serious condition.
2. The Right of
Privacy and Human Dignity
- To prohibit the comprehensive operation
of CCTVs at the detention facilities and to find other measures, such as
providing extra care for the detainee who has relatively high chance of being
involved in an incident and increasing the number of patrols of the security.
- To prohibit the operation of CCTVs
in restrooms and fitting rooms, and to install screening boards and other
protective measures should the operation of CCTVs in these places become
- To provide information on the
operation of CCTVs to the detainee in the way he or she can understand.
3. Right to
External Communication and Access to Information
- To allow the use of mobile phone within the
facilities, and to consider setting time and place for the use of mobile phone
if it is necessary to limit the use of mobile phone.
- To provide the detainees
with the access to Internet to ensure their right to external communication and
to make place for using computers in women’s detention units so that women are
not excluded from enjoying their right.
4. People in Vulnerable
Situation and/or in Prolonged Detention
- To designate area for sexual
minorities in the facilities considering the detainee’s gender identity, psychological
state, and the need of the detainee who is undergoing or has undergone the
process of gender affirmation surgery.
- To refrain from isolating detainees
with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) on the groundless concern for transmission
as HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another in daily settings, and
to take precaution not to expose a detainee’s health condition.
- To hold regular counseling sessions
for detainees in prolonged detention to support them in resolving issues such
as unpaid wages, and to consider suspending detention temporarily for those who
are likely to stay longer in Korea due to asylum procedures, trial process and
National Human Rights Commission of Korea will continue to monitor the human
rights situation in immigration detention facilities. The Commission will also prevent
human rights violations at those facilities and assist in improving the overall
environment of the facilities.