UN experts rap S. Korea over AIDS test for expat teachers

GENEVA (AFP) - United Nations rights experts on Wednesday rapped South Korea for demanding that a New Zealander undergo an HIV test before renewing her teaching contract, insisting she should be paid compensation.

The woman, identified in the media as Lisa Griffin, did not have her contract renewed in 2009 after she refused to undergo the test, which is not required of ethnic Korean teachers.

She maintained the mandatory test was "discriminatory and an affront to her dignity".

Ms Griffin's employers, the Ulsan Metropolitan Office of Education, had said that HIV/AIDS tests were "viewed as a means to check the values and morality of foreign English teachers", a UN statement said.

Foreigners who travel to South Korea to teach English or engage in some other occupations were long reportedly also required to undergo criminal background checks and tests for illegal drug use.

South Korean nationals in equivalent jobs were not required to do so.

South Korea has said it scrapped the HIV/AIDS tests for expatriate teachers in 2010.

The Geneva-based Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said the HIV/AIDS test "does not appear to be justified on public health grounds or any other ground and is a breach of the right to work without distinction to race, colour, national or ethnic origin".

It called on South Korea to "grant L.G. adequate compensation for the moral and material damages she suffered".

It also said South Korea should "counter any manifestations of xenophobia, through stereotyping or stigmatising, of foreigners by public officials, the media and the public at large", and gave the country 90 days to inform the committee of the steps it has taken.

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