중앙데일리

Proposed bill will target racist language, actions

Korean booked under criminal law for slurs against scholar from India

Sept 07,2009
A Democratic Party lawmaker said yesterday that he is planning to propose a new bill banning Koreans from racist behavior and using racist language aimed at expats living in Korea.

Jun Byung-hun said clauses in the bill will make it illegal for Koreans to humiliate or instill a sense of shame among foreigners living here.

The bill also covers insulting behavior and mistreatment in the job market, education, criminal investigation, court rooms, mass transportation, commercial facilities, housing and financial and medical service.

Under the proposal, foreigners can appeal to the National Human Rights Commission if they feel they have suffered racial discrimination. The commission will then investigate the case and, if necessary, order the accused to apologize or face a fine.

Persistent offenders found to be acting in a racist manner on a regular basis could be jailed for up to two years or fined around 10 million won ($8,090).

Jun is slated to introduce details of the bill to the public via his personal Web site and a blog for one week and collect public opinions. Jun is scheduled to propose the bill in the middle of the month. The proposal follows the decision of the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office last Monday to indict a 31-year-old male company employee surnamed Park on charges of insulting Banajit Hussein, a 28-year-old Indian research professor on a bus on July 10 this year. Kim Ju-sun, a prosecutor, said the professor filed a complaint, after Park said that he was smelly.

This is the first time in Korea that prosecutors have regarded remarks related to racial discrimination as a criminal act. Prosecutors pressed charges against Park under the criminal law because Korea does not have a law prohibiting language or actions that discriminate against race.

“I have experienced many cases similar to this insulting incident before. A lot of workers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are hurt more badly than I was,” said Hussein in a phone interview yesterday. “I wanted to make the case public so that people can discuss the problem.”

The professor also said he is planning to submit a petition to NHRC to complain about the discriminative behavior of officers at a police precinct in Bucheon investigating the case. Officers were polite to Park whereas they treated Hussein rudely by talking roughly, the professor said.

“I like living in Korea and I have met a lot of good Korean people,” Hussein said. “But at the same time, I have a hard time when some people are hostile toward foreigners and do not treat [me] equally.”


By Baek Il-hyun, Park Yu-mi [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]




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