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Court Ends Night Assembly Ban in Korea
The Constitutional Court should do more to protect protesters
PSPD (pspd1994)     Print Article 
Published 2009-09-28 17:52 (KST)   
This article is only lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>
On September 24th, the Constitutional Court ruled that Article 10 of 'Assembly and Demonstration Law' forbidding the outdoor assembly at nighttime is 'not consistent' with the Constitution. It confirmed that the ban on nighttime assemblies excessively restricts the freedom of assembly and demonstration. The People's solidarity for Participatory Democracy(PSPD) regards the Constitutional Court's ruling as a reflection of real social changes.

Among 9 Constitutional Court Judges, five regarded it unconstitutional because it violated the Constitution outright, and two other judges found that it was 'not consistent with the Constitution,' and that it is necessary to temporarily keep the law valid although it violates the principle of the prohibition of excessive restriction of fundamental rights.

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It is not fully satisfactory since the rule of the Constitutional Court is not "unconstitutional", but "not consistent with the Constitution." Nevertheless, the rule is a rational judgment which affirms the spirit of the Constitution -- a document that does not recognize "licensing of assembly and association" and does "the principle of the prohibition of excessive restriction of fundamental rights."

Unless continued the the article banning nighttime assembly will expire in July 2010. The police, the prosecutors and the court ought not to apply this unconstitutional law until revisions are made.

The police should not attempt to ban and control an assembly at nighttime, which goes against ruling of the Constitutional Court. The prosecutors should, as well, withdraw lawsuits based on violating the law . Otherwise, the court should throw out the trials and have judges acquit individuals until the law has been revised.

The Lee Myung-bak government should grant an amnesty to people who have already been found guilty. The National Assembly (Korean parliament) should respect the ruling of the Constitutional Court and revise the Assembly and Demonstration Law within this regular session, particularly as there are already bills pending that would eliminate the ban on a nighttime assembly.

In addition, the 'General Traffic Obstruction Law' is also on the Constitutional Court's docket. It has been used by the police to arrest citizens who participated in an assembly.

PSPD asks the Constitutional Court recognize that it is not within the spirit of the Constitution, and rule it unconstitutional.

PSPD also urges the Lee Myung-bak government to change its unconstitutional, anti-democratic behaviors and stop neglecting the Constitution which guarantees the protection of freedom and human rights.
©2009 OhmyNews

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