South Korean Authorities Must Release Journalists' Leader, Says IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on

authorities in South Korea

to immediately release YTN union chairman Jong-Myun Roh, who has been detained for

10 days since being arrested ahead of strike action at the broadcaster.

 

Roh was

arrested on March 22, the day before YTN staff were due to take strike action

as part of their long campaign to secure guarantees of editorial independence

at the broadcaster. Three other union members arrested on the same day were

quickly released.

 

According

to the Journalists’ Association of Korea (JAK), an IFJ affiliate, Roh

was transferred yesterday to a detention facility near Seoul.

 

Roh is expected to lodge a request today for a

"review of legality for confinement". His legal team has been joined

by Byung-Hun Min, a renowned Seoul District Court judge who retired this month.

A court decision is expected by tomorrow night.

 

Meanwhile,

the YTN strike today entered its ninth day. The strike comes amid an eight-month campaign by YTN workers

to defend editorial independence at the broadcaster, following last year’s

appointment of Gu Bon-Hong as YTN president. The appointment of Gu, who

previously worked as an aide to President Myung-Bak Lee, has raised concerns

about potential political influence on the broadcaster.

 

“The IFJ calls for Jong-Myun Roh to be released immediately.

To detain a union leader for 10 days without charge only increases the concerns

of the IFJ and other international organisations about the manner in which the

authorities and YTN managers are dealing with a dispute centred on the right of

media workers to organise around the defence of press freedom,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

“Once

again, the IFJ urges YTN’s management to seek constructive dialogue with YTN

staff representatives, and to show respect for the workers’ right to express their

concerns about the broadcaster’s independence.”

 

The IFJ will support the staff at YTN in preparing a

petition to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to

highlight the manner in which Roh’s arrest and continuing detention violate

international standards of freedom of the press, freedom of expression and

freedom of assembly.

 

For the IFJ’s recommendations on a resolution to the

dispute, see:

IFJ Letter to YTN & Mr Gu Feb09.pdf  

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide