ICCPR Case Digest




Submission: 2017.01.19

View Adopted: 2020.03.13

J.K. et al v. Republic of Korea

Claim of arbitrary detention of 11 alleged victims by a State Agency, the Committee finds the communication inadmissible as the authors had failed to exhaust domestic remedies.

Substantive Issues
  • Liberty and security of person
Relevant Articles
  • Article 9.1
  • Article 9.4
Full Text


The 23 authors of the communication are nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who submitted the communication on behalf of 12 alleged victims. The alleged victims are daughters of the authors of the communication, and they are nationals of the Republic of Korea following their entry into the State Party. The authors claim that the State Party has violated the rights of their daughters under articles 9 (1) and (4) of the Covenant.

The authors' daughters were recruited for work in Pyongyang and travelled to China, where they stayed with valid work visas while working as waitresses in two restaurants for a few years. In March 2016, the manager of the restaurant ordered them to be ready to leave to work in a new restaurant that opened in Malaysia. On 5 April 2016, the manager told them they were going to travel to the new restaurant and ordered them to get on a mini-bus that was waiting for them. Upon boarding the bus, and taking subsequent flights they continued to Seoul where they arrived on 7 April 2016. They were detained upon arrival at the Settlement Support Centre for North Korean Refugees. They were released from detention in two groups in the period between 8 and 11 August 2016 and followingly resettled. Two legal counsels representing the authors were repeatedly denied access to the daughters during this time period. 

The authors claim that the Republic of Korea detained their daughters without justifiable reasons in violation of their rights under article 9 (1) of the Covenant. The authors further claim that their daughters’ rights under article 9 (4) of the Covenant have been violated as their right to counsel has been denied in the denial of access to the daughters by the family-appointed lawyers. 


The Committee recalled that under rule 91 of its rules of procedure, a communication submitted on behalf of one or several individuals shall be submitted with their consent unless the authors of the communication can justify acting on the alleged victim’s behalf without such consent. In the present case, the Committee noted that the legal representatives had been properly authorized by the immediate family members to represent the alleged victims only during the habeas corpus proceedings and had not been explicitly authorized by them to submit the present communication. It also observed that it is not refuted by the authors that the alleged victims left the Settlement Support Centre in August 2016 and that the habeas corpus proceedings have ended.

It further noted the findings of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that the alleged victims are currently living in the Republic of Korea as ordinary citizens without any physical restrictions. The Committee, therefore, found that the authors had failed to substantiate that the alleged victims would be unable to submit a communication personally, or through duly authorized representatives to the Communication. On this basis, the Committee declared the communication inadmissible


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