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IDHAE World  Globebservatory for Defence Rights and attacks against lawyers

 

CASE DETAILS: (based on the testimony from the victim)

 

Mr. Lee Joon-Hyung is a lawyer from MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society, a non governmental organisation consisting of hundreds of legal professionals in Seoul, and has taken part in the protest for the last 20 days in order to provide legal advice to arrestees and monitor violence between the police and protesters.

 

According to the information received, at 1am on 26 June 2008, about 6 lawyers held a flag with the words 'a group of lawyers' and wore vests with the words 'monitoring group of human rights violation'. Out of them, Mr. Lee was positioned on a road near Saemoonan Church in Sejongro to monitor violence by protesters and riot police.

 

At 2am, a group of riot police forming seven and eight lines began walking towards protesters in order to forcibly disperse them. They also used water from water cannons to disperse those gathered. The riot police drove protesters towards the junction of Gwanghwamun. According to Mr. Lee, riot police ran after the protesters with their police shields erect. Upon seeing this, people started turning and running away. Mr. Lee was worried about people falling down so he shouted to both parties, "slowly!, slowly!". At that moment, an unidentified riot police officer attacked him on the forehead with his police shield causing him to fall unconscious. (See photo 1 -- receiving emergency care on the spot after being beaten. He showed cerebral concussion at this moment and he later said he did not remember what had happened.)

 

According to witnesses, even after he was unconscious the riot police continued to assault and step on him. A short while later, Mr. Lee was found and immediately taken to Seoul National University Hospital where he regained consciousness an hour later. Due to this attack, his skull and eye socket were fractured and there were injuries to all parts of his face. Bruises were found all over his body. A clear scar caused by the police shield was also found on his forehead. He lodged a complaint to Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office on July 2.

 

On the same day, he was transferred to the National Medical Centre located in Euljiro (See photo 2 -- at the hospital) and discharged on July 4. The bone of his forehead and his left eye was fractured and there is a danger that he may lose his eyesight. His face bone is also out of joint. He is currently commuting to the Centre to receive medical treatment and there is pain in his head, neck, shoulder and arms.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

 

According to the article 2 (1), 6 and 13 of official regulations on standards of using police equipment, which is an executive order, a police shield is mentioned as police equipment. Police batons, clubs for self-defence, gas vehicles and water cannon vehicles are enumerated in the list of police equipment that may be used in a situation of illegal assembly. However, there is no article in the regulations on whether the police shield should be used in the process of dispersing an illegal assembly.

 

In addition, according to article 82 (5) ((1)) on the rule of maintenance of police equipment, which is a directive of National Police Agency, police shall pay attention not to use the edge of shields towards important parts of the body, including a persons head.

 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

 

Since the public announcement regarding the agreement on importation of beef was publicised on June 25, the number of participants at the candle light vigil have been increasing. Especially on the night of 28 it was reported that at least 300 people were injured as the riot police started forcibly dispersing them. Most of the injured were beaten and assaulted by the riot police with police batons and shields.

 

Several live internet broadcastings have shown an officer in charge shouting to the riot police to use the police shield to hit the protesters heads. Likewise, supervisors at the protests encouraged police to violently attack every protester although most of them did not use violence. It is broadcast that the supervisors shouted, "I will take responsibility. Cut their heads down with the shield! What are you doing? Cut their heads down!". Even though the role of officers in charge is to calm down participants and police officers at protests in order to prevent both parties from unnecessary injuries during forcible dispersal, the officers would rather instigate, encourage and give authority to use the police shield in dispersing the protest.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

 

Please write letters to the authorities listed below urging them to investigate and punish those responsible for attacking the victim and provide effective remedies.

 

Please be informed that the AHRC has written separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture and Human Rights Defenders calling for their intervention in this case.

 

To support this appeal, please click here:

 

SAMPLE LETTER:

 

Dear ___________,

 

SOUTH KOREA: Police assault a lawyer providing legal advice during protests

 

Name of victim: Mr. Lee Joon-Hyung, 41 years old, attorney-at-law

Name of alleged perpetrators: unidentified group of riot police

Place of incident: on the road of junction of Gwanghwamun

Date of incident: at 2am 26 June 2008

 

I am writing to express my deep concerns regarding the attack on a human rights defender while riot police were in process of forcibly dispersing protesters.

 

According to the information that I have received, at 2am on June 26 Mr. Lee, wearing a vest with the words 'a monitoring group of human rights violation', was on the road at the junction of Gwanghwamun to provide legal advice to the arrestees and monitor violence by the riot police. A group of riot police were also present and ready to forcibly disperse the protesters. Suddenly, as riot police began their operation they beat Mr. Lee with their shields and he fell unconscious. Even after he fell to the ground the riot police continued to assault him with their batons and shields and stepped on him.

 

From the information received I have learnt that as a result of this assault Mr. Lee was immediately taken to emergency care at Seoul National University Hospital, and later transferred to National Medical Center located in Euljiro. According to the doctor in charge of diagnosing him, his skull and eye socket were fractured and there are injuries to all parts of his face. He was discharged from the Center on July 4 but continues to suffer pains in his head, shoulder, neck and arms and is currently receiving on-going medical treatment. A doctor has also diagnosed possible loss of eyesight due to the bone fracture of his forehead.

 

I strongly condemn the illegal use of police equipment in the process of dispersing protesters by the riot police, which has caused severe injuries to the victim. The riot police have violated article 82 of the rule of maintenance of police equipment, which is a directive of National Police Agency, stating police shall not strike important parts of the body, such as the head or face with police batons or shields. In addition, the riot police used their equipment on several protesters, as well as several people including volunteers providing medical treatment, who were also indiscriminately injured.

 

I therefore urge you to thoroughly investigate those responsible for these injuries to the victim so that they are properly prosecuted and punished according to law. I further urge you to investigate the supervisors and officers in charge at the protests who ordered the police to attack protesters with their batons and shields. I also call upon you to provide effective remedy including compensation to the victims. Please keep in mind that effective remedy includes punishment against those responsible.

 

I would like to remind you of an article regarding policing unlawful assemblies in the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement officials, which says, "In the dispersal of assemblies that are unlawful but non-violent, law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, shall restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary." Under these circumstances, the police are unable to justify the unnecessary force used in the dispersal of an unlawful assembly which resulted in the injuries of hundreds of people.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

 

1. Mr. Kim Kyung-Han

Minister

Ministry of Justice

88 Gwanmon-ro, Gwachon-si

Gyonggi Province 427-760

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Fax: +82 2 2110 3079 / 503 7046

E-mail: webmaster@moj.go.kr

 

2. Mr. Jeong Sang-Myong

Prosecutor General

Supreme Prosecutor's Office

1730-1, Seocho3-dong

Seocho-gu, Seoul

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Fax: +82 3480 2555

Tel: +82 2 3480 2000

 

3. Mr. Eo Cheong-Soo

Commissioner General

Korean National Police Agnecy

209 Migeun-dong

Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Fax: +82 2 365 5797

Tel: +82 2 363 0112

E-mail: cnpa100@police.go.kr

 

4. Mr. Lee Myeng-Bak

President

1 Sejong-no, Jongno-gu

Seoul 110-820

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Fax: +82 2 770 0347 / 770 0001 / 770 2579

Tel: +82 2 770 0018

E-mail: foreign@president.go.kr or president@cwd.go.kr or president@president.go.kr

5. Mr. Ahn Kyong-Whan

Chairperson

National Human Rights Commission of Korea

16 Euljiro 1-ga

Jung-gu

Seoul 100-842

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Fax: +82 2 2125 9812 / 2125 9666

Tel: +82 2 2125 9700

E-mail: nhrc@humanrights.go.kr

   

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