Impact on human rights and challenges
PAS has strengthened the capacity of the justice system to implement national
and international standards on civil rights by improving inter-agency collabo-
ration and coordination among the prisons, the prosecutors, the police and the
courts. PAS has also increased awareness of human rights standards within the
justice system, and developed procedures to expedite the processing of cases.
Importantly, PAS has also strengthened awareness of rights among prisoners as
well as their capacity to protect their rights. Over five years, the paralegals have
helped over 45,000 prisoners to represent themselves in bail applications, pleas
in mitigation and conducting their own defence.
This work has had tangible consequences for the protection of civil rights, in-
cluding the right of arrested or detained persons to be informed promptly of any
charges against them (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art.
9.2) as well as the right of such persons to have a court decide without delay on
the lawfulness of their detention and order their release if the detention is not
lawful (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 9.4). PAS has
also improved the protection of the right to legal assistance without payment for
persons who do not have sufficient means to pay for it (International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, art. 14.3 (d)). Between May 2000 and mid-2005, PAS
facilitated the release of over 2,000 prisoners who were unlawfully or unneces-
sarily detained through bail, discharge or release on compassionate grounds. The
screening of suspects at police stations has helped reduce the pretrial population
of prisons from an average of 50 per cent of the total prison population to an
average of 22 per cent in 2005.
B. Legal and policy reform for the protection of the rights of migrant
workers – Republic of Korea
The protection of the rights of migrant workers in the Republic of Korea faced
several obstacles through the 1990s as the numbers of illegal migrants surged.
In 2002, over 80 per cent of the approximately 340,000 migrant workers in the
country were estimated to be illegal. The industrial trainee programme, which
was introduced in 1993 as a two-year training programme, exacerbated the prob-
lem by creating incentives for many trainees to become illegal residents owing
to their low fixed wages, their inability to change employers and the fact that
Korean labour laws did not apply to them. In general, migrant workers did not
benefit from the same types of legal protections as national workers and, as a
result, were frequently victims of systematic abuse by their employers.
The workers’ social and economic rights were violated as a result of their exploi-
tation by employers who paid low wages and did not provide sufficient insurance
cover. Their civil and political rights were also violated as they were the victims
of insults, beatings, unlawful detention, racial discrimination, sexual harassment
and sexual violence.