National Human Rights Commission of Korea Express Its Views on Draft Law on Support for "Mixed-Blood" Families
On 18 January 2007, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Korea finalized its stance on the draft Bill on Support for the Families of "Mixed-Blood Persons" at the request from the governmental Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. The bill had been initiated by twenty-three parliamentarians, including Mr. Kim Choong-huan of the Grand National Party, on 17 November 2006.
The sponsors of the bill explain that, while the number of "mixed-blood persons" is on the sharp increase in South Korea, they are subject to discrimination as well as social exclusion and prejudice; the government has not taken adequate policies for their welfare and education, having no comprehension of their actual situation. Thus the bill aims to introduce legislative reform in order to guarantee the rights of "mixed-blood persons" and their families in an effective manner.
The bill defines the term "mixed-blood person" as "any person who has one or more lineal relatives by blood, up to the third degree of kinship, with different racial or ethnic origin and whose father or mother has Korean nationality".
Having considered the bill in the light of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice (adopted by the UNESCO General Assembly in 1978), the NHRC raised the following four issues with its views.
- The principle of non-discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity should be explicitly mentioned in relation to the elimination of discrimination, social exclusion and prejudice against "mixed-blood persons"; and policies for the prevention and elimination of discrimination against all categories of these persons should be incorporated into the bill.
- The term "mixed-blood persons" refers to all persons not of pure Korean blood and has discriminatory implications. Thus it is inappropriate to use the words as a general legal term, in particular in a bill for the elimination of discrimination. The difficulty in providing for a clear definition of the term further justifies this view.
- Careful and thorough consideration is needed to ensure that the distinction between "mixed-blood persons" and "non-mixed-blood persons" does not lead to further discrimination in the context of affirmative actions for the former.
- The mandates of the Committee and the Center to support "mixed-blood" families, envisaged in the bill, may overlap with the functions of the NHRC, the mandates of the Healthy Family Support Center and other existing bodies, as well as the projects under the Multicultural Family Support Law, being drafted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
As is the case in Japan, Korea has also witnessed a sharp increase in the number of people with different ethnic origins, including migrant workers and families of international marriage, making it a major challenge to promote "multicultural co-existence" at the community level.
Source: National Human Rights Commission of Korea