UN to release position on legality of detention of ousted South Korean President Park Geun Hye

Former South Korean president Park Geun Hye arriving at the court in Seoul on Aug 25, 2017.
Former South Korean president Park Geun Hye arriving at the court in Seoul on Aug 25, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - An international legal group representing ousted President Park Geun Hye said the United Nations will release its position on the legitimacy of her detention next month.

Mishana Hosseinioun, president of US-based MH Group, told The Korea Herald that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is currently looking into South Korea's treatment of Park in jail, following allegations she is being unlawfully detained and her basic rights have been violated.

Park was impeached in March and taken into custody shortly afterwards. She is being tried on 18 charges including bribery and abuses of power over a corruption scandal that led to her ouster and has sent many of her aides to jail.

The Seoul Central District Court extended her detention for six months in November, prompting her defence team to resign in protest.

"As of just a few days ago, the UN working group has officially accepted our case, which means they have formally communicated this to the authorities and are expecting a response from them within the next month," Hosseinioun said in an exclusive interview in Seoul published on Monday (Dec 18).

"So by mid-January, the Republic of Korea has to officially respond to the working group, and the fact that they took this on is that they also believe there is sufficient reason to look into this seriously," she added.

MH is pushing for Park's provisional release from jail, claiming Park's detention has no legal grounds and her health conditions have deteriorated as a result.

In October, the group sent the United Nations Human Rights Council a document concerning Park's ill treatment in her cell, urging it to safeguard Park's human rights.

South Korea's National Human Rights Commission, however, concluded that Park's cell was in overall good condition, based on an on-site inspection it carried out shortly after the report.

Hosseinioun asserted that Park had been a victim of a political trial in the court of public opinion.

"There is the issue of also 'innocence until proven guilty.' This is being presumed guilty, something that was exaggerated by the public opinion. A lot of people came out for revenge, but it's not about what they think or what they want, it's about what is permitted within the law," she said.