Chairperson’s statement on welcoming the Supreme Court decision on the case of National Reparation to the victims of the Presidential Emergency Decree No. 9
- The Government of the Republic of Korea has to be responsible in providing reparation to the victims of human rights violation caused by former governments -
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea(Chairperson Doohwan Song) hereby releases a statement welcoming the Supreme Court ruling on 30 August 2022 which made a way for the victims who suffered due to the implementation of the ‘Presidential Emergency Decree to protect National Security and Public Order’(hereinafter the ‘Emergency Decree No. 9’) to receive indemnity from the government.
Since the issuing of the Emergency Decree No. 9 on 13 May 1975, around 1,000 people were prosecuted and over 900 people were convicted. The Emergency Decree No. 9, however, is a decree which violates the fundamental rights stated in the Constitution, as it fails to meet the standards of legitimacy and adequacy in legislating a law. The Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court have already found the decree unconstitutional and invalid in 2013.
Though the victims applied for retrials were found innocent after many years of suffering, they couldn’t receive any indemnity from the government, as the Supreme Court decision that the government has no responsibility to provide compensation to the victims remained unchanging.
However, on 30 August 2022, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling which has not changed for 7 years and decided that the Emergency Decree No. 9 is not only unconstitutional and invalid, but the government also has a responsibility to provide compensation to the victims who were forcibly arrested, detained and punished under the Decree.
The recent Supreme Court ruling marks the beginning of the process to provide adequate remedies to those who suffered under the Emergency Decree No. 9. The ruling is all the more meaningful as it made clear the government has to take responsibility for the result of the abused state power in the time of authoritarian era.
However, the issue of providing remedies also to those who have already settled the case before the recent decision from the Supreme Court still remains.
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence Fabian Salvioli called on the relevant bodies of Korean Government to safeguard the rights to truth, justice, reparation and prevention of recurrence of the people who suffered during the past events when he visited Korea in June. The government providing adequate reparation to those who had their rights violated due to the state power that was wrongly wielded in the past is an act of the current government taking responsibility to protect the rights of the people of Korea.
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea once again welcomes the ruling from the Supreme Court. The Commission also expresses its opinion that there has be follow-on measures, including legislative measures, to see tangible outcome in providing remedies to those suffered under the inadequate use of state power.