Thursday, February 07, 2008

[The Hankyoreh, January 18 2008] [Editorial] Keep human rights and the media free from presidential control

The presidential transition team says it wants to make the National Human Rights Commission an organization directly under the Office of the President. The dumbfounding idea ignores the very reason for the commission in the first place. The transition team also wants to create a new broadcasting and communications commission and have that also be directly under the president. It announced the larger direction of things, but when it comes to how it will put this new commission together, and how it will operate the two commissions, it has said nothing. We would hope that the idea did not originate from a desire to firm up government control of broadcasting.

“The National Human Rights Commission and the (existing) Broadcasting Commission do not exist anywhere within the legislative, judicial and executive branches,” the transition team said. “ This violates the constitutional principle of checks and balances.” It truly defies good sense to say something like that, especially about the Human Rights Commission. Is the transition team really ignorant of the fact that it is a body that exists to keep government authority in check? The need to have governmental human rights institutions be independent from other organs of the state in order to function properly was noted in the 1993 Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, otherwise known as the Paris Principles, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

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