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The S. Korean Migrant Workers Trade Union (MTU, affiliated to the KCTU) published last week(6.28) its latest...


Report on Trial and Detention of Vietnamese Construction Workers in South Korea
 

The following is a report on the outcome of the trial of 10 Vietnamese migrant workers arrested in relation to their participation in two spontaneous strikes in July 2010 and January 2011.
 

*Charges and Verdict


The defendants were all charged with 'obstruction of business'. Seven of them were also charged with acts of 'group violence' or 'mob assault with a deadly weapon'. All defendants were found 'not guilty' of the charge of 'obstruction of violence'. The not guilty verdict was based on the following legal precedent, quoted in the judge's decision:
 

“Workers' basic rights, as protected in the Constitution, included the right to association, collective bargaining and collective action (strike) as a means to improve their working conditions. Foreigners, irrespective of nationality, are also subjects of these basic labor rights. When deciding whether a strike, as a job action, constitutes obstruction of business, strict interpretation is necessary so as to ensure that the basic rights described above are not violated.
 

“As such, it cannot be seen that strikes, as job action, necessarily constitute 'obstruction of business'. Rather, this must be judged after the fact, and only if a review of the specific circumstances shows that the collective refusal of labor provision occurred suddenly at a time that the employer could not predict so as to cause great difficulty to the operation of business, or great losses, and thus impaired the employers' ability to voluntarily continue his/her business can it be considered as constituting the crime of 'obstruction of business' (Supreme Court, 7 March 2011, Refer to sentencing verdict 2007do482, complete panel of judges)."
(This is an unofficial translation.)
 

The judge found that there was not sufficient evidence to show that the employer had suffered the claimed losses, and thus, the strike could not be seen as constituting 'obstruction of business’.
 

With regards to the other charges, five of the defendants were found guilty, but their sentences were waved or they were given light fines. The judge explicitly explained that more severe sentences that would become grounds for deportation were intentionally avoided. Only two defendants were given suspended prison time sentences—sentences severe enough to be grounds for deportation.
 

*The details of the sentencing are as follows:
 

1. aaaaa
-obstruction of business: not guilty
-group violences: guilty
-sentence: 2 million won fine, waved sentence of 8 months prison time (not grounds for deportation)
 

2. bbbbb
-obstruction of business: not guilty
-mob assault with deadly weapon: guilty
-sentence: 2 years prison time, suspended for 3 years (grounds for deportation)
 

3. ccccc
-obstruction of business; not guilty
-group violence, mom assault with a deadly weapon, mob assault: guilty
-sentence: 1 year 6 months prison time, suspended for 2 years (grounds for deportation)
 

4. ddddd
-obstruction of business: not guilty
 

5. eeeee
-obstruction of business: not guilty
-group violence: guilty
-sentence: 2 million won fine (not grounds for deportation)
 

6. fffff
-obstruction of business: not guilty
-mob assault with a deadly weapon, violence: guilty
-500,000 won fine, waved sentence of 8 months prison time (not grounds for deportation)
 

7. ggggg
-obstruction of business: not guilty
-mob assault with a deadly weapon: guilty
-sentence: waved sentence of 8 months prison time (not grounds for deportation)
 

8. hhhhh
-obstruction of business: not guilty
-group violence: guilty
-sentence: 2 million won fine
 

9. iiiii
-obstruction of business: not guilty
 

10. jjjjj
-obstruction of business: not guilty
 

*Detention by Incheon Immigration


Based on the above verdict, all but two of the defendants should have been released. Instead, only two of the three defendants who received not only guilty verdicts were released. The third continued to be detained by the police because of a prior fine he had not paid. The other defendants were taken by immigration officials to the Incheon Immigration office.
 

When they arrived at the court, the immigration officials were unclear about whom they should take custody of or what their sentences were. They did not even refer to the judge's decision in deciding whom to detain, but rather just detained all those with guilty verdicts. They did not have the required detention orders. When supports protests, they simply wrote up 'emergency detention orders' for the seven defendants on the spot in such a rushed manner that they mistakenly recording the same date for the start and termination of the detention.
 

When activists and supporters protested this unfair treatment, the head of the Incheon Immigration Office simply replied with arrogant comments such as, "Our detention center is good, better than other countries. You shouldn't think of detention as imprisonment, ” and "South Korea's immigration system is of high quality."
 

This is a clear case of abuse of authorities granted under the Immigration Control Law. The Incheon Immigration Office's is a racist attempt to increase the number of deportations it carries out without regard for the rights of the individuals involved or the presiding judge's intentions.
 

Labor, civil society and social movement organizations are continuing to call for the workers release and protest the actions of the Immigration Office...


http://migrant.nodong.net/?document_srl=176040#0



 


 

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