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U.N. human rights experts send letter requesting S. Korea's position on controversial media bill

All News 20:41 August 31, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- U.N. human rights experts have sent a letter requesting the South Korean government explain its position on a controversial media bill that calls for heavier punishments for fake news reports, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

The experts' move came after local human rights advocate groups, including the Transitional Justice Working Group, lodged an appeal with U.N. special rapporteurs to voice concerns that the legislation, being pushed for by the ruling Democratic Party, could undermine freedom of the press and fair trial.

The ministry confirmed that it has received the letter.

"We have received the letter from the U.N. side. It is difficult to confirm the details of the letter at present as the decision on whether to disclose the content lies with them," the ministry said.

"We will respond as we watch the ongoing discussions at the National Assembly," it added.

The government is required to provide a response to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in the next 60 days.

Earlier in the day, rival parties said they agreed to table the bill in a plenary parliamentary session set for Sept. 27. The ruling party backed away from its plan to pass the bill this month amid the strong backlash from the media industry and opposition lawmakers.

Yun Ho-jung (R), floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party, and Kim Gi-hyeon (L), floor leader of the main opposition People Power Party, pose for a photo with National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug at Park's office in Seoul on Aug. 31, 2021, after they tentatively agreed to process a controversial media reform bill led by the ruling party in a plenary parliamentary session next month. The meeting took place amid a standoff over the bill denounced by the opposition bloc and journalist groups as a "press-gagging law." (Yonhap)


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