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Lawyer “coercive conversion education, unlawfulness very clear… active intervention by public power needed”
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[Interview] Lawyer “coercive conversion education, unlawfulness very clear… active intervention by public power needed”

▲ Ever since MBC PD Notebook’s broadcast ‘Strange Secret of Shincheonji’ in May 8th 2007, that has misled the organization to with a perception of sociopathic which often gets involved with confinement, assault and divorce - the number of coercive conversion education has rapidly increased from only 1 in 2003 to 75. After careful investigation from both the Prosecutor and Police, Shincheonji was ‘cleared fromsuspicion’ of violence, assault and embezzlement. Despite the order from the Court to MBC PD Notebook to release ‘correct and amend report’ accordingly, the number of victims for coercive conversion education continuously increases from 78 in 2008, 99 in 2009, 90 in 2010, 130 in 2013, 160 in 2014 and 150 in 2015. (Source: Victim’s SCEC) ⓒCheonji-ilbo(News-Cheonji)

Criteria for punishment exists according to Constitution·Criminal Law
‘Religious matter amongst family’… Reluctant to intervene
Aim to change awareness by amending current law

[Cheonji-ilbo(H.E. Times)=Kim, Min Ah] “The solution to ease damage of coercive conversion education is actually already in place under the current legal framework. The problem is that because this issue is strongly related amongst family that one tends to either avoid the intervention from the first place or to cope with a lukewarm measure from constitutional and criminal law enforcement. There is a strong needs forproper perception to have correct awareness as well as seriousness on this matter.”

According to Coercive Conversion Education (CCE) Victims Union, the case for such has increased over 100 times on a yearly basis. During these processes follow kidnapping, confinement, violent languages and assaults, and even forced confinement to mental hospital when the victim does not agree to convert to the demanded religion.

Mr. Park(49), who has advised on this case, has pointed out from the interview with our newspaper on the May 11th that coercive conversion education is indeed clearly unlawful; however only for the government authority to conclude such case as merely religious matters amongst family members makes it a problem to solve the case for the victims.

According to the Lawyer, people have the freedom of religion under the ‘Article 20 paragraph 1’ makes it a basic human rights regarding choosing religion. In addition, freedom of religion includes the freedom to conversion from one to the other, and with this fundamental background, forcing someone to convert religion is a clear violation to basic human rights based on the constitution.

▲ According to CCE Victim’s Union ‘Realities of Human Rights for the Victims of Coercive Conversion Education”, intimidation and brainwashing were the most in terms of victim numbers of 921, followed by 802 victims who were in forced captivity. Those who were abducted numbered with 663. Assaults(541) and forced restraints by cuffs·ropes (367) were followed. (Source: CCE Victims Union) ⓒCheonji-ilbo(News-Cheonji)

Lawyer Park explains that the coercive conversion education is applicable to special charge for injuring a person (Article 258, paragraph 2), special charge for assault (Article 261), special charge arrest•confinement (Article 278), special charge for intimidation (Article 284), special charge for coercion (Article 324) and a few others more, which are all results of kidnapping, confinement, violent languages and assaults.

He pointed out that “Damages caused from coercive conversion education are all applicable to criminal charges as a result of crimes committed during the processes. However the problem is that the government authority considers such cases as merely religious matters amongst family members which ultimately make it a problem to solve as they are very reluctant to intervene from the first place.

In addition he concluded that “If discrimination against religious minorities are applied to criminal regulation through a prohibition on discrimination act, one can expect to see more active execution of such laws that will certainly help change awareness to respect the freedom of religion as an overall”.

▲ Coercive Conversion Education (CCE) Victims Union urges for fair investigation after presenting damaged cases as a result of coercive conversion education at the Hyewha Police Station, Seoul, in July 7th, 2015. ⓒCheonji-ilbo(News-Cheonji)

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