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Gov"t May Release Long-term "Prisoners of Conscience"

Sept 13,1998
The Ministry of Justice is considering the release of long-term prisoners of conscience without receiving a signed statement from them indicating they will observe the law. By 'prisoners of conscience' the Ministry is requiring to mainly North Korean prisoners captured before or during the Korean War and those arrested on charges of spying for the North. Park Sang Chun, the Justice Minister said in meeting with Pierre Sanet, the General Secretary of the Amnesty International, 'Many of these prisoners of conscience were unable to sign such a statement because they were worried about the safety of their families still living in the North. So, government is making efforts to come up with another alternative for them.'
Park confirmed that the Ministry is not planning to revise the 'National Security Law' by saying, 'The ambiguous points of this law should be revised soon, but not at this time.' He also said, 'The promise of law observance does not violate the freedom of conscience. The statement simply asks whether or not they will observe the law.' Additionally, Park said, 'The government will present bills about human rights to the National Assembly. In the future, not government but private human rights committees will monitor the situation of human rights in Korea.'



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