Corea, República de - Court upholds three-year prison sentence of national trade union leader

On 31 May 2017 South Korea’s Supreme Court confirmed a three-year prison sentence for Han Sang-gyun, the leader of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). He had been charged with leading a series of illegal rallies at the end of 2015 and causing damage to public property and police officers, and had been in prison since December 2016.
Violent clashes erupted at some of the rallies, which were organised to protest against then-President Park Geun-hye’s controversial labour and education policies. The lowest court sentenced him to five years in jail, claiming he did not take any measures to stop clashes between demonstrators and the police. The high court reduced the term to three years, saying the police’s response was excessive.
It had been hoped that President Moon Jae-in, elected in May 2017 following the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, would follow the recommendations of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) to release Han or revoke the wrongful charges against the trade union leaders who took part in the people’s rally in 2015. Regrettably, Han was not included in the special pardon granted by the Korean President last December and at the beginning of February 2018 was still in prison.

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