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South Korea: What Do the Candidates Say About Rights?

Human Rights Watch Sends Questionnaire to Presidential Hopefuls

South Korean activists hold placards on discrimination against women during a protest to mark International Women's Day in Seoul, South Korea, March 8, 2021. Sign on the right says, “Expand female employment and hire without gender discrimination,” and the sign in the middle says “strengthen public responsibility for [child]care.”  © Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

(Seoul) – South Korean presidential candidates have an important opportunity to explain their positions on key human rights issues and reach the broader public, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch has sent a questionnaire about human rights policy to the four major-party presidential candidates and will publish their responses on February 24, 2022. South Korea’s presidential election is scheduled for March 9.

“South Korea’s next president should recognize that the country’s human rights policies at home and abroad should reflect positively on its growing economic and global standing,” said Lina Yoon, senior Korea researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The presidential candidates should clearly explain their human rights policies on pressing issues in South Korea, as well as relations with North Korea, so that voters can consider their responses when going to the polls.”

The questionnaire was sent on January 25 to Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party; Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party of Korea; Shim Sang-jung of the Justice Party; and Yoon Seok-youl of the People’s Power Party.

The goal of the questionnaire is to give each candidate the opportunity to provide voters with their views concerning the protection and promotion of human rights in South Korea and abroad.

The 15 questions contained in the questionnaire focus on children’s rights and education; women’s rights; the rights of older people; the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people; freedom of expression; and human rights policy toward North Korea. The deadline for candidates to respond is February 21.

“The presidential candidates should use this opportunity to explain their policies on human rights to the South Korean people,” Yoon said. “We hope that each candidate gives these issues the important consideration they deserve.”

UPDATE: Human Rights Watch extended the submission deadline to February 25, and will publish the responses after.

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