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Rights watchdog rejects petition over gov't decision to penalize defector group over leafleting campaign

All News 09:47 January 02, 2022

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- The state human rights watchdog has rejected a petition accusing the government of a human rights violation over its decision to revoke the license of an anti-North Korea group of defectors for sending propaganda leaflets across the border, sources said Sunday.

The petition was filed with the National Human Rights Commission in June last year after the unification ministry decided to revoke the license of Fighters for a Free North Korea and to file a criminal complaint against its head, Park Sang-hak, for sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North.

The ministry argued at the time that the leafleting campaign violated the law banning the sending of goods to the North without government permission, and endangered the safety of residents living near the border by provoking the North to threaten retaliatory action against the leafleting.

The petitioner, whose identify was not made public, claimed that the ministry's decision represents a violation of human rights, such as the freedom of speech and publication, and the freedom of assembly and association.

But the state rights commission decided to dismiss the petition in August this year, citing that a related lawsuit was under way, and notified the petitioner of the decision in November, according to the sources.

The decision, which means the commission did not make any judgment on the case, drew criticism that the watchdog tried to avoid the politically sensitive case.

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