Facility locked up a disabled girl for eight years.

Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in <The Kyunghyang Shinmun> on Feb. 1, 2012, reporting an inhumane act of illegal lock-up of an intellectually disabled minor with brain lesions for 8 years in a special facility for disabled people. It is all the more mind-blowing that such a crime has been committed in a special facility which is supposed to protect its inhabitants with a fair sense of human dignity and human rights protection. Another shameful portrait of hastily developed but culturally still unmatured Korea. All rights regarding this post stay with the author of the original article or with <The Kyunghyang Shinmun> and this post will be scrapped immediately at their request. In the post, I tried to match the English translation of names of people / institutions / positions to their authentic ones as much as I can but, inevitably, some of them may be different. Original article of this post (in Korean) can be found in the link at the bottom.

Reporter Kim Hyang-mi 김향미 sokhm@kyunghyang.com

Ms. B (17) with intellectual disability and brain lesions had been locked up in a cage-like structure for over 8 years from 2003 to Jun. last year in a special facility for disabled people K in Seo-gu, Gwangju Metropolitan City (MPC). Except during walking therapies and meals, Ms. B had been locked up in the cage most of the time. K facility raised ‘prevention of accident and protection’ as the reason for the lock-up.

Established in Dec. 2002, facility K housed 26 intellectually disabled people, and 10 employees worked there. Since 2009, employees disciplined facility inhabitants using corporal punishments; hitting legs, palms, and feet soles with things like broomsticks. And, under the recognition or connivance of the facility manager, they used to lock disabled inhabitants inside their rooms from outside until Jul. last year.

The manager of the facility sometimes ordered to exclude fruits or foods he doesn’t like from meals or snacks. Time to time, female rehabilitation teachers bathed or supported male inhabitants. They forced disabled inhabitants to share inner wears without differentiating individuals and rarely gave them personal allowances.


K special facility for disabled people by Korea National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC)

These facts were revealed while KNHRC performed an authorized examination of the facility in Sep. last year. The Gwangju MPC, securing the inhabitants’ deposition about human rights violation in K facility during the fact-finding survey over special facilities for disabled people last year, asked for joint examination to KNHRC.

KNHRC judged that “the practice in K facility violated regulations banning infringement against self-determination, right to choose, and right to exercise property right. It also violated bans against mistreatments such as assault, abuse, lock-up and sexually humiliating actions.” In particular, it judged that the arbitrary quarantine of Ms. B by locking up in a cage-like iron structure for accident prevention and protection reasons is a crime of mistreating a minor and lock-up.

KNHRC announced “the prime reason and responsibility for human rights violation that took place in the facility K so far was the inability of the facility manager who was also the managing director of the legal establishment in charge of the facility to fulfill his obligation to protect inhabitants of the facility.”

KNHRC announced on Feb. 1 that “we charged the manager of the facility K to the Public Prosecutor General and recommended to the director of Seo-gu office, Gwangju MPC, to close the facility. We also recommended to the mayor of Gwangju MPC to examine the overall managing practice of the legal establishment as well as facilities managed by the legal establishment, to exercise appropriate administration measure, and to devise necessary measures such as providing necessary human resources with regard to the closure of facility K and relocation of its inhabitants.”

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