Rights and Freedoms 40 Years Ago

Rights and freedoms 40 years ago

Lee Sang-jae (Head of Education and Public Relations Team, Korea Migrant Workers’ Human Rights Center)
Last weekend, I was on my way to a summer camp in the East Sea with migrants visiting the center. At a highway rest area, I was sitting around looking for shade and eating a packed lunch. A group of people in their 50s and 60s sat around us looking for shade. People who hesitated when they saw me wearing the staff name tag and immediately asked, ‘Are you feeling much better?’ They share their feelings about us, saying, ‘How lucky it is to go sightseeing and to come to Korea.’ Several words lingered in his mouth. However, it was the road to the East Sea after a long time away from the arduous migrant labor. And they came with kindness. “It should get better.” He just smiled and turned around. This is a question asked by many people around the center, including supporters of the center, with a smile. ‘Now that you’re feeling a little better, are you working as a person?’
The lie of Korea As the
industrial training system was abolished in January this year, the foreign workforce policy was unified into the employment permit system. There are still many people who complain of the pain of trainee status because the unification policy is still not clear. The overseas-invested corporate trainee system of large corporations, which is different from industrial trainees, is still alive, forcing migrant labor in the lowest positions. Putting everything aside, let’s just talk about the unification of the Employment Permit System. Are you working as a person? Is modern slavery really over?
Article 8 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, created 40 years ago, states that ‘No one shall be placed in slavery. All forms of slavery and the slave trade are prohibited. No one is required to do forced labor.’ Article 12 of the same Covenant guarantees free movement, saying ‘Everyone who is legally within the territory of a country has the right to freedom of movement and freedom of residence in that territory.’ Korea acceded to and ratified the Covenant in 1990. It has the effect of domestic law. Is the Republic of Korea really keeping the rules it has ratified?
In conclusion, the answer is ‘no’. Of course, on the basis of the fact that Article 6 of the Labor Standards Act stipulates that ‘an employer shall not force workers to work against their free will by means of violence, intimidation, confinement, or other means of unreasonably restricting their mental or physical freedom.’ They are misleading the international community that they are protecting it well. That’s a lie.
The Employment Permit System is a system that enforces forced labor. Article 25(1) of the Foreign Worker Employment, Etc. Act states, ‘When it is difficult for a foreign worker to continue a normal working relationship at the business or workplace due to any of the following cases, the employment security agency shall, as prescribed by Ordinance of the Ministry of Labor, In principle, migrant workers are prohibited from moving their workplaces according to their free will, not external conditions. The saying ‘We guarantee up to three business trips’ is a distortion. There is no freedom of movement of the workplace. However, you have the right not to extend the one-year contract. It denies the dignity of human beings regarding the freedom of choice and free will guaranteed by the Constitution. What makes this unfair reality possible are ‘violent enforcement and deportation’ and ‘money’. According to the results of a fact-finding survey conducted by the Migrant Human Rights Alliance last year to mark the second year
of the continuous
employment permit system implementation of the modern slave system, the  corruption that was prevalent in the industrial trainee system is still prevalent in the employment permit system. Excessive transmission costs, equivalent to a local worker’s ten-year salary, compel them to endure considerable human rights violations and oppression in Korea. Article 11 of the Political and Civil Covenant stipulates that ‘No one shall be detained solely for non-performance of contractual obligations.’ However, the reality is different. Migrant workers are subject to detention the moment they collapse from exhaustion from unequal contracts that prohibit freedom of movement in the workplace. Even an opportunity for explanation is not easily granted. If they are detained and forcibly deported, the cost of sending them out for the rest of their lives will increase. It reminds me of family members from my poor hometown who look at me. end up being a slave.
The crackdown on detention is more violent than the law. Article 9 of the same Covenant stipulates that ‘No one shall be deprived of his or her freedom except in accordance with the reasons and procedures prescribed by law.’ The Republic of Korea also follows the principle of warrant. Migrant workers are an exception here. Factory trespassing is basic, and we only guess from each other’s senses, and we aim the gas gun in front of our nose as if we don’t need to know or reveal our identity. The most basic human rights, the right to life and the right to safety of the body, are not taken into consideration. Violent crackdown on deportation continues, whether it’s jumping from a building, ruptured internal organs, or dying while being trapped in an iron cage and screaming ‘open the door’. The continuous and widespread enforcement and deportation since the implementation of the Employment Permit System has driven migrant workers into daily fear. Escape from unjust reality is exile. Freedom of movement of the workplace is pushed back. end up being a slave.
Don’t go to Homeever! 
While I was on my way to camp, I got a phone call from Homeever, near the industrial complex, saying that there was an open crackdown on two buses. Previously, they had intensively cracked down on large supermarkets near the industrial complex on weekday evenings and weekends. On the return bus, I shared the story with the people I was with, saying, ‘Let’s not go to Homeever because there are a lot of crackdowns. It is a tragic solidarity that neither weeps nor smiles. A bud of hope sprouts from the bottom solidarity. The day when the declarations agreed 40 years ago to fight against violent institutions and public authorities, and to at least protect human rights at this level, become a reality, such a beautiful night will come one day, not the voices of the Korean working-level support group.

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