Foreigners with fines will be allowed to exit

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Foreigners with fines will be allowed to exit

The government will end its practice of stopping foreign residents from leaving the country if they have unpaid fines, officials said on Friday.

The National Human Rights Commission said the Ministry of Justice recently accepted its recommendation of terminating the practice. The commission argued that the ban on foreigners with unpaid fines, which could also be applied to their children, had no legal ground.

In response, the Justice Ministry said it plans to take steps before the end of this year to allow foreigners to leave the country regardless of unpaid fines, commission officials said.

Under the Immigration Control Law, foreigners who are under criminal trial, have unfinished prison sentences or have yet to pay fines are banned from leaving the country.

But the National Human Rights Commission said the practice should be overhauled, citing one instance where three children aged one, three and seven who were unregistered after being born in Korea were barred from leaving the country with their maternal grandmother in December.

“If a foreigner under the age of 17 does not apply for a stay in South Korea, the guardian must apply for it,” a commission official said. “Violators are fined, and if the fines are not paid, the foreign child and guardian are slapped with an exit ban.

“Fines are a punishment to maintain administrative order,” the official continued. “Failure to pay fines should not be included in the reasons for an exit ban.”

The Justice Ministry said it would consider alternative measures to make foreigners pay back fines, including the possibility of imposing penalties during re-entry.

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