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Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, A/HRC/32/36/Add.2, 15 June 2016: Republic of Korea

[Cited from the advance unedited version.]

IV.      Situation of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

A.      Freedom of peaceful assembly

2.       Bans on assemblies

29.     Article 8 (2) of the ADA permits police authorities to ban the latter-notified assembly when two or more assemblies with conflicting objectives are to take place at the same time and place. This creates room for abuse, as illustrated by the banning of an assembly by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in June 2015 because counter-demonstrators had lodged their notification earlier. It was alleged that the earlier notification was solely to prevent the LGBTI gathering. The Special Rapporteur emphasizes that States have an obligation to protect and facilitate simultaneous assemblies, including counter demonstrations.

5.       Groups in situation of vulnerability

44.     The Special Rapporteur welcomes the diversity in participants – including women, youth, LGBTI persons, and persons with disabilities – at general protests and demonstrations. He was gratified that he received no complaints of sexual violence during these gatherings. Even so, he took note of the challenges that youth and persons with disabilities face in exercising their rights to peaceful assembly. Persons with disabilities are impeded from participating in assemblies by police immobilising or obstructing their assistive devices, sometimes physically removing them from assemblies against their will. School regulations and attitudes that young people and students are at risk of manipulation by adults prevent them from participating in assemblies.

45.     The Special Rapporteur urges authorities to exercise great caution when interacting with disabled persons and their assistive devices, which are integral to their lives. Young persons are equally entitled to exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly. As such, intimidation and punishment – including by school authorities – of minors and young people who express their views through organising or participating in peaceful protests such as the one related to history books, should be prohibited and sanctioned. Similarly, LGBTI persons should not feel intimidated by counter-demonstrators to take part in protests. Counter-demonstrations, while allowed to take place, should not dissuade participants of the other assemblies from exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly (A/HRC/20/27, para. 30). The police should play an active role in this regard.

B.      Freedom of association

1.       Associations

49.     Even more troubling is that government departments can altogether avoid the responsibility of considering legal personality applications if they believe the organization’s area of work does not fall within their competence. For example, the Beyond the Rainbow Foundation, a LGBTI association, was denied legal personality by the Ministry of Justice, ostensibly because the group works on a narrow issue of sexual minorities, whereas the Ministry claimed that it can only register groups who work on broader “general human rights” themes. The association 4.16 Sewol Families for Truth and A Safer Society faced a similar rejection of its legal personality application by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, which claimed the group’s proposed activities, such as truth-finding, had already been carried out by government agencies.

VII.    Conclusion and recommendations

Recommendations on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly

(e)    Ensure that the rights of all categories of assembly participants including persons with disabilities, youth, women, LGBT persons, monitors, media are upheld during the management of assemblies.

Link to full text of the report: report-srassembly-auv-2016-republicofkorea-eng