[EDITORIALS]Misuse of tax moneyThe National Human Rights Commission supported the production of a documentary publicizing the movement to protect conscientious objectors, persons who refuse to serve in the armed forces on moral or religious grounds, and that is puzzling. According to news reports, the Human Rights Commission selected joint projects with civic groups at the end of April. Extending support to produce a documentary about the right to refuse a conscription order and seek alternative service, as proposed by one civic group, is included.
The Human Rights Commission said that it had never formally made its stance on conscientious objection public. The commission asserted that the decision to support the documentary and its official stance are unrelated. The commission said seven members of the committee, including professors and civic activists, that selected the commission’s 23 joint projects are outside consultants.
But that is a poor excuse. The civic group producing the documentary said that the commission gave it 13 million won ($10,800). If true, the commission gave money to a project without a proper examination.
Supporting a documentary intended to publicize conscientious objectors, a movement now beginning to gain strength among younger persons, should not be overlooked because it could have a bad influence on national security. Supporting the production of such a documentary is tantamount to extending help to a civic group promoting draft objectors when the government should strengthen compliance with conscription.
It is the duty of the Human Rights Commission, as the safeguarder of human rights, to protect the rights of the weak. For instance, the right to arrest suspects without warrants is still being abused by legal authorities. Forty-four percent of 690 inmates at 12 detention houses nationwide said they had been strip-searched when they were arrested, according to a survey by the Korean Institute of Criminology requested by the commission.
The commission should stop its work on conscientious objectors and focus on human rights violations by the authorities, with which the public sympathizes.