13 February 2018 – A Korean court has released Samsung Electrics Vice-Chairman Lee Jae-yong after spending a year in jail for corruption involving billions of dollars.
Meanwhile, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) President Han Sang-gyun remains in prison and charges are still being brought against General Secretary of KCTU, Lee Young-joo for involvement in a peaceful protest in 2015.
The release of a convicted corporate criminal after such a lenient sentence, while lawful unionists remain in prison and under threat of prosecution, shows that there is one set of rules for the rich, and another for the working people of Korea
Quotes attributable to ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly:
“The ACTU calls for the Korean Government to drop charges againstHan Sang-gyun andLee Young-joo, and end the persecution of unionists who are exercising their freedom of assembly and association.
“The recently installed President of Korea Moon Jae-in promised to support working people and end corruption, but is instead freeing corrupt businessmen and imprisoning unionists. This must end.
“The ACTU has written to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop about this case numerous times, but our government has taken no action. The Australian Government in its new role as a member of the UN Human Rights council should pressure the South Korean government to uphold UN international law on freedom of association and the right to assembly.
“The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has noted that Han Sang-gyun’s deprivation of liberty is arbitrary and has called for his immediate release and compensation.
“The International trade union movement welcomed the election of Moon Jae-in and hoped that as a former human rights lawyer he would correct the worrying trend towards the use of state power against representatives of working people.
“We regret that instead of following through on his promises to the Korean people, President Moon has continued on the deeply worrying path set by his predecessor.”
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)