NHCR to ask for blacklist probe

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NHCR to ask for blacklist probe


Choi Young-ae, chief of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, apologizes at the commission headquarters on Tuesday for its failure to immediately respond to allegations that the Lee Myung-bak Blue House created a blacklist of commission members. [NEWS1

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea announced Tuesday that it will ask the prosecution to investigate former President Lee Myung-bak for allegedly creating a blacklist of employees at the commission opposed to the administration’s policies.

“Based on our internal investigation, it appears that blacklists on members of the commission existed, including at least one drafted by the national police in 2008 and another drafted by the Blue House in 2009 and maintained through 2010,” the commission said in a written statement on Tuesday.

The commission said that the blacklists were created after the commission announced that some police present at the 2008 anti-U.S. beef protest violated the rights of protesters through violent and excessive suppression of the protests.

“According to the former secretary general of the commission, a presidential secretary met the former secretary general of the commission around October 2009 at the Plaza Hotel in Seoul and handed over a list of some 10 members of the commission,” the commission said in its statement. “The secretary told the secretary general, ‘These are a list of people that cannot go together with the Lee Myung-bak administration.’

“We suspect that the blacklists were created because the Lee administration wanted to purge some members of the commission with apparently progressive ideas and backgrounds,” it said. “Of those on the list drafted by the Blue House, two were dismissed in 2009 during the commission’s reshuffling of staff members.

“The blacklisting of members of the commission is a serious violation of the basic human rights outlined in the Constitution of Korea,” it said. “The commission must be guaranteed independence and freedom to express its opinions, even though they are critical of the administration and the government.

“It therefore requests the prosecution to investigate the matter, and investigate former President Lee Myung-bak for alleged power abuse,” it said.

The commission added an apology for not acting when the alleged blacklist was handed over to the commission from the Blue House.

“The senior executives of the commission did not go public with the dealings by the Blue House in 2009, and we apologize for this,” it said. “And even when media reports on the allegation surfaced in 2012, the commission failed to respond effectively via means such as an immediate commencement of an internal investigation.”

The commission carried out the internal investigation from July to November this year after a subsidiary committee within the commission cited the media reports from 2012 and made an official request that the commission investigate the matter. Regarding a separate case, the commission on Tuesday also apologized for violating the rights of an activist with an impairment who died of pneumonia shortly after protesting at the commission’s building in the winter of 2010.

“Woo Dong-min staged a protest at the commission building in 2010, at which point the commission failed to provide a proper heating system for the activist and others rallying for a cause,” the head of the commission, Choi Young-ae, told the press on Tuesday.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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