Tuesday, May 01, 2007

National Human Rights Commission on Yeosu Fire

Over at the NHRC page they have some results from their first ex-officio investigation into the Yeosu fire.

On April 9, the NHRCK released its findings from the investigation, stating that the fire deaths of a number of migrant workers at a government immigration office were a grave violation of human rights. Considering the importance of the case, the Commission decided to launch an ex officio investigation and subsequently reported its findings as below. In light of its findings, the NHRCK expressed regret to the minister of justice for his failure to implement its earlier recommendation to amend the Immigration Control Act (legal nature of custody, government employees’ obligation to give notice against illegal immigrants , etc.) and made the following recommendations.

Though there is certainly a bunch of legalese to read through, the NHRC report is pretty substantive (and hopefully there is more coming) criticizing not simply the state of the facilities and the reactions of the guards on duty at the time, but also many of the institutional procedures that produced the fire such as the lack of a process for dealing with unpaid wages, deportation of fire victims, failure of immigration officials to notify migrants of detention orders ahead of time (rather than after they are detained -- which is what happens to 99% of detainees -- encouraging immigration officials to nab migrants first and ask questions later), etc. Of course, larger denunciations are still in order, but this is a nice first step. Hopefully it will spur larger reflections on the situation faced by migrants in the country, but a lot of work is still needed to look into the denial of rights to migrants in everyday spaces rather than simply exceptional moments. Nonetheless, reports like this are helpful.

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