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South’s stand on foreigners with HIV protested

Dec 02,2009
A coalition of human rights and foreign workers’ organizations filed a petition Tuesday with the national human rights watchdog, protesting over what they claim are South Korea’s discriminatory measures against HIV positive foreigners, the National Human Rights Commission said.

The petition, submitted by five groups, including the HIV/AIDS Human Rights Solidarity Nanuri+ and the Migrants’ Trade Union, says South Korea infringes on the human rights of foreign migrants by conducting tests for HIV on them without their knowledge or consent.

The coalition made the complaint to coincide with World AIDS Day.

“According to South Korea’s AIDS prevention law, a person’s consent is required before testing for HIV. But foreign workers are made to receive health checks without being informed that they include a HIV test,” said Youn Gabriel, the head of Nanuri+.

The petition also says current emigration and immigration controls discriminate against foreigners with AIDS.

“Even foreigners who have received work permits are deported from the country if they test positive for HIV,” Youn said, noting that over 600 foreigners have been forced to leave since the late 1980s.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier called on South Korea’s health minister to remove the country’s emigration and immigration controls on foreigners with HIV, pointing out that it is one of 11 countries in the world to impose such restrictions.

The Association for Teachers of English in Korea, a group of English language instructors, submitted a similar petition to the NHRC in February, claiming that carrying out HIV and drug tests on some, but not all foreign teachers, is unconstitutional and characteristic of discrimination against foreign nationals.

Yun Seol-a, a public relations officer at the NHRC, said the commission is “investigating to see if there are sufficient legal grounds to carry out such tests.”
Yonhap
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