Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rights panel reviewing police action on G-20 poster graffiti

by Kim Eun-jung

via Yonhap NA, Seoul, Korea

The human rights panel is in discussions over the attempted arrest of civilians who drew graffiti on G-20 promotional posters to see if the police overreacted, its officials said Thursday.

A 41-year-old college lecturer, whom the police identified only by his last name Park, and a 23-year-old female student were caught on the spot on Oct. 31 drawing a mouse on the posters plastered in downtown Seoul.

They were put under detention at a local police station for two days but later released after a local court rejected police request for warrants to arrest them.

The actions of the police immediately drew fire as excessive and a violation of freedom of expression.

The National Human Rights Commission said that in addition to the case, it will be monitoring whether the police resort to excessive security control or engage in unreasonable crackdowns during the G-20 summit period on Thursday and Friday. Inspectors will head to the streets to monitor how the riot police handle demonstrations and rallies by civic and labor groups, it said.

Park said that the graffiti was meant to be a satire, but the police argued that what the two did was "intentional and systematic" behavior against the global economic summit.

"It seems that the police have requested the warrants as an example to the people ahead of the G-20 summit," said Park Ju-min, a lawyer for the defendants. "It is an action that limits basic rights, such as freedom of expression."