Amnesty expresses concern over rights chief's reappointment
Amnesty International Korea, the human rights advocacy group, expressed concern on Monday over the government's attempt to grant a second term to the controversial chief of South Korea's human rights commission.
Hyun Byung-chul, the current chief of the National Human Rights Commission since 2009, was nominated to another three-year term last month. He was to attend the National Assembly's confirmation hearing later in the day.
"Chief Hyun poses a threat to the independence and impartiality of the rights commission by saying that the organization is part of the government," Amnesty International Korea said in a statement, citing his track record of ignoring minorities in politically sensitive issues.
Hyun, the 68-year-old law professor, has come under pressure to step down from the post after turning a blind eye to its members' request to investigate whether the police abused its power in suppressing protesters against the redevelopment of Yongsan in Seoul in 2009, which caused the deaths of five protesters and one police officer, among other things.
The advocacy group also pointed out that the nomination of committee members was made "presumably in accordance with political motivation."
"Those who lack experiences in the human rights field have been appointed to committee members," it added, calling on the government to run the organization "in a transparent way in close consultation with civic groups and the persons interested."
On Sunday, the main opposition Democratic United Party vowed to prevent him from serving a second term and made an onslaught against Hyun, raising suspicions over the misappropriation of public funds, receiving favors in his promotion to higher posts while serving as law professor and alleged irregularities over his son's military draft. (Yonhap)