Imprisonment of conscientious objector Yoonjong Yoo

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Use this form to send the letter below to the relevant authority (President Lee Myung-bak). You can add your own notes in a separate box after the standard text, if you wish. You must include a name, address, and email address; a copy will be sent to you with a cc to the WRI office (so we have a record of how many email letters have been sent out for this particular case).

Dear President Lee Myung-bak,

I am very concerned about the imprisonment of conscientious objector Yoonjong Yoo, who was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment on 25 April 2012 for his conscientious objection to military service. He began serving his prison sentence on 30 April 2012 at Seoul Detention Centre. He joined more than 800 conscientious objectors presently serving prison terms in South Korea.

Although the Constitutional Court of Korea ruled in 2011 that there is no right to conscientious objection under the Korean constitution, this does not change South Korea's commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). As a signatory to the ICCPR South Korea is under the obligation to recognise the right to conscientious objection - it is not a matter of choice.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee recognised in a decision from January 2007 the right to conscientious objection as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, as guaranteed by Article 18 ICCPR. In fact, in this decision on two cases of conscientious objectors from South Korea, the Human Rights Committee stated that not to provide for the right to conscientious objection is a violation of Article 18 ICCPR (see CCPR/C/88/D/1321-1322/2004 from 23 January 2007). It came to similar conclusions again in 2010 and 2011, deciding on more than 100 individual complaints by conscientious objectors from South Korea. A further 50 complaints have been lodged with the Human Rights Committee recently.

I therefore urge you to immediately release Yoonkong Yoo and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors. I urge you to finally recognise the right to conscientious objection.

I urge you to respect human rights.