“Back off” is the Message the IFJ is Sending to Reform Opponents in Korea

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, has welcomed the proposed repeal of South Korea’s anti-communist National Security Law.

The IFJ welcomes the public declaration of support by South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun to repeal the law and supports the call by the National Human Rights Commission of South Korea for the Government and National Assembly to abolish the anti-communist National Security Law.

The law allows journalists to be jailed for up to seven years for praising or for open sympathy towards anti-state groups. The law also provides for up to five years in jail for failing to notify authorities about other anti-state crimes.

There are currently 50 cases pending related to violations of the security law.

The law was established in 1948 to defend the country from the threat of communist North Korea.

“The law has been repeatedly misused by governments to violate basic human rights such as freedom of speech and expression and has been used to jail and vilify legitimate press freedom and democracy activists,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

“The scrapping of the National Security Law will be an important step in returning to Korean journalists the right to cover the conflict between North and South Korea without fear of being labelled ‘anti-state’,” said Warren.

Debate over the law will come before the National Assembly during its general session that opened on 1 September. The governing Uri Party are planning on amending the nation’s criminal law to absorb left over clauses from the Security Law after the anti-communist measures of the law is repealed.

The debate over the law has been fueled by the rejection by the Constitutional Court in August of a government plan to replace the Security Law with criminal codes. The Constitutional Court ruled that the Law was constitutional and needed.

The IFJ is denouncing efforts by the Constitutional and Supreme Courts to uphold the law.

‘Back off’ is the message the IFJ is sending to reform opponents of the national security law, “ says Warren.

“It is time that the basic right of freedom of speech, as guaranteed by the South Korean Constitution, is no longer infringed on by a repressive and outdated law,” said Warren.

For more information please contact Christopher Warren +61 (0) 411 757 668

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries