Insult to Indian earns police force a reprimand

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Insult to Indian earns police force a reprimand

Korea’s human rights watchdog demanded yesterday that the police issue warnings to officers who racially discriminated against an Indian while questioning him and take steps to prevent a recurrence of such incidents.

Bonojit Hussain, 29, appealed to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in July 2009 claiming that a group of officers at Bucheon Police Station, just west of Seoul, mishandled his complaint against a South Korean who made racial slurs against him during a bus ride.

Hussain said the investigators refused to believe he was a research professor at Seoul’s SungKongHoe University and wasted time verifying his identity.

The officers encouraged Hussain to compromise with the man he accused of making racial slurs and insisted there was no racial discrimination in Korea, the professor said.

The case gained publicity after the accused man became the first person in the country to be indicted on charges of making discriminatory remarks. This is also the first time that the human rights panel has demanded that someone be reprimanded for having a racial bias.

“Police officers are obligated to treat people without bias regardless of their nationalities, but they infringed upon the victim’s human rights in reckless disregard,” the commission said in a statement.

The commission, however, concluded that the officers’ conduct was “not intentional,” but appeared to be the result of a widespread cultural attitude.

The accused South Korean man was fined 1 million won ($832) by a local court last year on charges of contempt.

The case prompted lawmakers and civil activists to push for a bill to ban discriminatory practices against foreigners based on skin color or nationality.

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