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Friday, 6 January 2012

South Korea reforms refugee and asylum law

Map of Korea 대한민국전도 大韓民國全圖
Image by skinnylawyer via Flickr
Source: Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid

This news was submitted by HoTaeg Lee, head of Refugee pNan in Korea.

I just want to inform you all that the new Refugee Act, apart from Immigration Control Act, finally passed the National Assembly in Korea on 29 December 2011.

Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network president PhilKyu Hwang, along with attorney JongChul Kim, WonGuen Choi of Nancen, HoTaeg Lee of the Refuge pNan, National Human Rights Commission and UNHCR provided excellent leadership and devotion in making this new law. Lawmaker Woo Yer Hwang played the key role in passing the Act.

The main victory of our legislative activities is that during all refugee application processes, including judicial procedures, refugee applicants will now have legal status to stay in Korea and will be protected by a work permit, subsistence allowances, housing, medical care, and education.

The Act also stipulates detailed RSD procedures, including the procedure at ports of entry, an information guide, interpretation, legal assistance, NGO presences, video and audio recording, confirmation and copy of the interview records, confidentiality, detention for identification, and an appeals committee, amongst other details.

Under the Act, a first instance decision should be made within six months of the application, but if necessary it can be extended for six months with seven days prior notice. The appeal process is  the same. Applications submitted with false and fraudulent documents, re-applications submitted without a basic situation change or applications submitted in in order to avoid or delay imminent removal after a stay in Korea of more than one year can be handled by simplified or accelerated process.

The Act also adds clauses for recognized refugees beyond the protection of the refugee convention, related to family unity and recognition of academic diplomas and qualification licence.

The new Refugee Act will come into effect on 1 July 2013 for cases filed thereafter.
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