The Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific-COLAP condemns the South Korean government’s illegal and unreasonable detention of Kim Ryon-hee, a Pyongyang citizen, and we convey our request as follows.

1. The South Korean government does not connive and prolong the pain and misfortune of Pyongyang Citizen Kim Ryon-hee, who is forced to break up with their North Korean families and North Korean restaurant employees who were kidnapped. We urge the South Korean government to engage in inter-Korean dialogues to resolve the repatriation issue as soon as possible.

2. The South Korean prosecution’s indictment against Kim Ryon-hee on December 29th, 2020, in violation of the National Security Law (NSL), is illegal and unjust. It violates the exercise of the right to return to the North for Pyongyang citizen Kim Ryon-hee, guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights.

Therefore, Ms. Kim Ryon-hee’s self-helping efforts to return to her hometown desperately are justified in response to the South Korean government’s actions that prevented her from returning to Pyongyang without guaranteeing her return to Pyongyang. The prosecution of the NSL will lead to strong criticism of the international community as an anti-human action. NSL obstructs and represses the family’s reunification with an unreasonable logic that the efforts of Ms. Kim Ryon-hee endanger South Korea’s security by the act that is beneficial to North Korea.
Accordingly, we strongly urge the South Korean prosecutors to cancel the above allegations of illegal and unfair prosecution immediately.

3. Lastly, the fundamental causes of series of refusal to send North Korea and forced detention of Ms. Kim Ryon-hee by the South Korean government, the South Korean investigative agency, the prosecution, and the judiciary, as well as the investigation, prosecution, and punishment under the illegal and unjust NSL, are due to the existence of the NSL resulted from the division of Cold War system.

South Korea must reconcile with North Korea and engage in dialogue and negotiations. The NSL is an anachronistic Cold War relic that attempts to collapse by defining North Korea as an anti-state organization in the opposite direction to prevent the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. We urge the South Korean government to abolish the NSL immediately.

February 27th, 2021
The Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific