The IADL and COLAP stand in solidarity with the South Korean movement for the repeal of the National Security Law in South Korea and call on President Moon Jae-in to repeal it.
National Security Law, under Article 7 of the law, punishes acts that praise, incite, propagate or sympathize with the activities of anti-government organizations. Here, “anti-government organization” means North Korea, and those who cooperate with it are widely punished. Since the democratization of South Korea in the 1980s, there have been calls for the repeal of the National Security Law, but this has not yet been achieved. 100,000 signatures calling for the repeal of the law were submitted to the National Assembly in South Korea in 2021, and the progressive legal organization, Minbyun, has been a key proponent of this movement.
Due to the vagueness of the scope of punishment under the National Security Law, people are actually repressed if they say or do anything favorable to North Korea, and as a result, there is a chilling effect that prevents people from doing in favor of North Korea. As long as this law is in place, South Korea’s hostility toward North Korea will increase, and voices that oppose it will be silenced. In the peace process between North and South Korea since the 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, if a person is judged to be of the same opinion as North Korea, he or she will be suppressed, and movements against U.S. military bases and the South Korea-U.S. military alliance will also be subject to suppression if they are seen to benefit North Korea. The National Security Law is a relic of the Cold War era and is a law that stirs up conflict between North and South Korea and obstructs the realization of the peaceful reunification of the Korean people.
In 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled to dissolve the United Progressive Party, one of the progressive political parties, for violating the National Security Law because it had someone inside who was close to North Korea. The National Security Law is the successor to the Japanese Security Maintenance Law, which was a suppression law during Japan’s colonial rule of Korea during World War II, and is also a suppression law of thought. The National Security Law infringes on freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and freedom of association and has been repeatedly recommended for abolition by the UPR in the UN Human Rights Council and the Human Rights Committee on the Civil and Political Rights.
The IADL and COLAP strongly urge the repeal of such state security law that hinders the realization of the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.
July 6 2021
International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)
Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific (COLAP)