Rafto Foundation Supports Human Rights Reform in Korea

Article excerpt

The Norway-based Rafto Foundation, which announced the selection of President Kim Dae-jung Thursday for the Rafto Peace Prize 2000, said it strongly supports human rights reform in Korea.

It said the Kim administration represents a step forward regarding respect toward human rights in Korea, in comparison to earlier governments.

But it emphasized that a great deal still needs to be done in this field before the country can measure up to international human rights standards.

The foundation, which was founded in 1986 in the memory of late Norwegian professor Thorolf Rafto, who had devoted his life to realizing democracy in the former Soviet Union, noted that the new human rights law, inspired by the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, is now being proposed in Korea to secure human rights.

It also noted that the country's most effective tool of oppression of people's rights, the National Security Law, is under discussion for revision.

The foundation said at the center of Kim's politics lay the aim of guaranteeing peace on the Korean peninsula -- one of the last areas on earth still haunted by the Cold War. ``Despite considerable opposition in South Korea, Kim has had both the courage and power necessary to enforce a policy of reconciliation and involvement with North Korea,'' it said.

It said the recent concrete measures taken to normalize relations between the South and North, including the reunion of families, is a ``policy of small steps which slowly but steadily may help to open up one of the world's most closed countries. …