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Fundamental Paradigm Shift Is a Prerequisite for Tackling Endemic Violence in Sports
-NHRCK to issue recommendation calling on President to lead efforts to shift win-at-all-costs paradigm and related ministries and organizations to introduce practical rights protection measures-
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (Chairperson Young-ae Choi) held a Plenary Committee meeting on July 6 2020. With regard to the tragic death of the late triathlete Suk-hyeon Choi, the Commission is keenly aware of the consequences of failing to act more strongly and proactively to rectify rights issues in sports. Taking into account the results of the ex officio investigation into rights abuses in sports approved in December 2019 and the high probability that physical and sexual violence will persist without a fundamental paradigm shift, the Commission has decided to issue a recommendation calling on the President, as the head of the executive branch, take a leading role in the reform of the domestic sports environment and structure, which have been long been distorted by deep-seated culture of violence.
The special task force on human rights in sports, which was launched by the Commission in February 2019, conducted ex officio investigations into the overall state of the protection system for victims of physical and sexual violence in sports. It was decided at the Plenary Committee meeting in December 2019 that the Commission will issue recommendations to related state agencies about specific measures to strengthen the protection system. Acknowledging the limitations of the current decentralized sports administration system in tackling violence in sports, the Commission decided to provide its opinion to the President highlighting the need to reinforce its role as an independent and specialized investigation unit.
With public health and disease control taking precedence over any other issues amid the spread of COVID-19 since February 2020, the Commission has been improving the clarity of some recommendations approved by the Plenary Committee and legal principles applied.
While revising the recommendations concerning human rights violations in sports, we heard the news about the most extreme consequences of abuse in sports, which should have never happened in the first place. The Commission feels deep regrets for not fulfilling its mandate of protecting the rights of each and every individual and believes that the use of sports by the state for political purposes has been the root cause of deep-seated and recurring violence in sports. This led to the conclusion that the President should lead the reform of the sports system and a sweeping paradigm shift as the head of the executive branch.
In addition to the previous recommendations on eradication of physical and sexual abuse in sports, the Plenary Committee of the Commission intends to issue a recommendation to the President stressing a more fundamental state obligation. The Commission will also propose specific measures to promote the effectiveness of the system that prevents and protects athletes from rights violations in the long-term process of reforming the sports sector.
The Commission will draft a decision reflecting concrete views of Plenary Committee members and make public the final decision in the form of specific recommendations to the President and related agencies.
The Commission expresses its heartfelt regrets for not having done more to prevent the suffering and death of the late triathlete Suk-hyeon Choi and renews its commitment to providing reliable protection for victims of human rights violations.