Home > Rule of Law > NHRCK to stop police abuse of handcuffs

NHRCK to stop police abuse of handcuffs

Tues June 15

Myungjin Lee

According to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea’s (NHRCK) recent decision, it determined that any unnecessary use of handcuffs and ropes violated personal freedom as guaranteed under Article 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea.

The law has required police officers not to violate arrested and detained suspects’ human rights such as a right to self-defense, particularly without being psychologically strained during investigation conducted by law enforcement officials. Therefore, such devices like handcuffs and ropes should be used only when there are evident risks of flight, violence, disturbance, self-injury, and so forth.

However, Lee, one of the people who filed his complaints to the NHRCK last January, was handcuffed without reasonable doubt last January when he visited a police station in Gyeonggi province. When entering, Lee had no idea that he was turning himself in: as he was “wanted” for failing to pay a 700,000 won ($700) fine. Soon enough, Lee was arrested and handcuffed by several police officials. In an interview with the Korea Herald, one of the police officers said that he handcuffed Lee because “he seemed possible to flee.” Furthermore, there were no signs that the accused was about to flee or injure himself while being questioned as a suspect.

In a similar case to Lee, another complainant Kim was handcuffed because of smoking in a police station and refusing to answer questions during his investigation. Because it is the right of a criminal suspect to refuse to make any self-incriminating statements the police extend themselves beyond their power in this situation as well. Therefore, applicable regulations prohibit police officers from using police devices on such grounds.

NHRCK additionally figures that many police stations including other Seoul branches violate detainees’ human rights in similar cases, and has ordered the police department to strengthen human rights education to its law enforcement personnel and reprimand the police officers related to this matter. As such, the NHRCK expects this strong decision to prevent further recurrences and protect the overall rights of citizens from police brutality. ■

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Categories: Rule of Law
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