Greenpeace East Asia and Greenpeace International agreed to settle the lawsuit they filed against South Korea's Ministry of Justice for denying entry to six Greenpeace anti-nuclear campaigners. The MOJ contacted the law firm representing Greenpeace on June 5, 2013 requesting a settlement. In response, Greenpeace agreed to drop its lawsuit against the Ministry with an understanding that the Ministry would take positive measures including the end of its denial of entry against Greenpeace campaigners.
The parties were given 14 days to conclude a settlement agreement by the Seoul Central District Court at a hearing yesterday.
"We welcome this gesture by the MOJ as an indication that the current government is showing the possibility that it will uphold democratic principles, especially people's right to freedom of expression. We were able to confirm MOJ’s intention of taking progressive measures that should include lifting the ban, so we made the decision to agree to a settlement and drop the lawsuit. However, we will continue to seek the motives behind the suppression of voices that oppose nuclear energy expansion in Korea," said Pino Lee, Campaigner of Greenpeace East Asia.
The Greenpeace offices and staff sued the MOJ in December 2012 for violation of legal principles and abuse of its discretionary authority by denying entry to Greenpeace staff. These denials of entry also illustrate the improper influence of the nuclear industry on Korea's political system, and represent a violation of the right to freedom of expression and association as guaranteed by the Korean constitution.
South Korea was recently in the international spotlight after the United Nations sent its Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders to investigate human rights abuses in the country. Amnesty International noted in its annual human rights report that the heavy-handed approach against Greenpeace is part of a wider government suppression of critical voices from NGOs and the media.
Greenpeace has warned that a Fukushima-type disaster could happen in South Korea due to safety issues in the country's nuclear power plants. Greenpeace, along with national environmental movements, has conducted seminars and public awareness campaigns on the dangers of nuclear energy.
Millions of Koreans who live within a 30-kilometer radius of nuclear power plants are at risk from a nuclear accident.
Following the Fukushima disaster, and after a series of scandals and malfunctions at South Korea’s nuclear plants, public opposition against nuclear energy in the country has dramatically increased. (1)
Pino Lee, Campaigner, Greenpeace East Asia, +82 10 9186 0326
Youn Hwang, Communications Officer, +82 10 4089 6980
NOTE TO EDITORS
1) Korea Energy Institute said only 16% favoured nukes after Fukushima