COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
19 OF THE CONVENTION
Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture
B. Republic of Korea
44. The Committee considered the initial report of the Republic of
(CAT/C/32/Add.1) at its 266th and 267th meetings, held on 13 November
(see CAT/C/SR.266 and 267), and adopted the following conclusions
45. The Committee welcomes the detailed and timely report of the Republic
Korea, which on the whole conforms to the Committee's guidelines.
The Committee also thanks the State party for its responses to the
concerns expressed by the Committee.
46. The Committee welcomes the positive changes since 1993 towards
improving and enhancing human rights and achieving the minimal international
standards, as demonstrated, inter alia, by the State party's
ratification of a series of international treaties concerning human
rights and by its willingness to build a society characterized by
respect for human dignity and to move towards the democratization
47. The Committee notes that some relevant laws, regulations and institutions
have already been amended in the spirit of human rights enhancement.
48. It is encouraging that the civilian Government granted amnesty
to and restored the rights of a large number of citizens and thus
contributed to the more liberal political climate.
49. The Committee notes with satisfaction the efforts of the Republic
of Korea to expand the scope of legal aid available to the economically
50. The Committee is also encouraged that, at least in a few cases,
public officials who have tortured prisoners have been convicted and
that, in some cases, courts have ruled that confessions obtained under
duress during interrogations are inadmissible as evidence.
51. The Committee also appreciates the frankness of the report, which
shows the Republic of Korea's consciousness of the problems that remain
to be solved and its awareness of the need for further improvements
to be made with regard to inadequate and unacceptable practices and
52. The Committee notes with satisfaction that the Republic of Korea
has concluded mutual judicial assistance treaties on criminal matters
with Australia and Canada and has signed such treaties with France
and the United States.
3. Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the provisions
of the Convention
53. The Committee is aware of the security problems and the tense
situation on the Korean peninsula.
54. The Committee has tried to take this fact into consideration in
formulating its conclusions and recommendations. However, it must
be emphasized that no exceptional circumstances can ever provide a
justification for failure to comply with the terms of the Convention.
55. The Committee is concerned that the Republic of Korea has not
incorporated a specific definition of the crime of torture in its
penal legislation in terms consistent with the definition contained
in article 1 of the Convention.
56. The Committee notes with deep concern that continued reports from
non-governmental organizations show that many political suspects still
go through the "torture procedure" during interrogation,
in an attempt to extract confessions from them. The sleep deprivation
practised on suspects, which may in some cases constitute torture
and which seems to be routinely used to extract confessions, is unacceptable.
57. The Committee is also concerned that the legal system facilitates
long periods of interrogation of suspects before they are charged.
58. The Committee is equally concerned at the State party's continued
failure promptly and impartially to investigate and prosecute those
responsible for acts of torture and ill-treatment. It is unacceptable
that only formal complaints of the victims of torture are investigated.
59. While taking into account that the implementation of the National
Security Law is the result of security problems on the Korean peninsula,
the Committee emphasizes that the Republic of Korea must ensure that
the provisions of the National Security Law are not implemented arbitrarily.
The vagueness of its provisions gives rise to a great danger of arbitrariness.
60. The report of the Republic of Korea mentions a single specific
case concerning the obtainment of redress for a crime of torture.
The Committee expresses its concern that the existing procedures for
obtaining redress or compensation are not effective.
61. It is a matter of concern that suspects may be detained for up
to 10 days without a remand order or any form of approval by the courts.
62. The Republic of Korea should enact a law defining the crime of
torture in terms consistent with article 1 of the Convention.
63. The national laws should be further reviewed in the light of the
Convention and other standards for the protection of human rights
64. Education of police investigators, public prosecutors, other law
enforcement personnel and medical personnel regarding the prohibition
against torture should be fully included in their training, in accordance
with article 10 of the Convention, with special emphasis on the definition
of torture as contained in article 1 of the Convention and on the
criminal liability of those who commit acts of torture.
65. An independent governmental body should take over the inspection
of detention centres and places of imprisonment. Public prosecutors,
who are also part of law enforcement personnel, which may itself be
subject to investigation of the crime of torture, should not be the
main inspection figures.
66. The Committee recommends that the allegations of ill-treatment
which have been brought to its attention be duly investigated and
that the results of such investigations be transmitted to the Committee.
67. The 30- or 50-day maximum period of detention in police premises
for interrogation purposes before the suspect is charged is too long
and should be shortened.
68. The Committee recommends that counsel be permitted to be present
during interrogation, especially since such presence would be in furtherance
of the implementation of article 15 of the Convention.
69. The Committee hopes that the Republic of Korea will review its
reservation and make the declarations concerning articles 21 and 22
of the Convention.