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Amnesty makes migrant leader appeal

Rights watchdog says union chief's expulsion order breaches international conventions

Michel Catuira, chair of Migrants' Trade Union, calls for the cancellation of the order for departure in front of the Seoul Immigration Office. Michel Catuira, chair of Migrants' Trade Union, calls for the cancellation of the order for departure in front of the Seoul Immigration Office.
  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • March 25, 2011
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Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has denounced a South Korean expulsion order against the leader of a migrant workers’ union and urged the government to let him stay in the country.

Michel Catuira, the Filipino president of the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrants' Trade Union, is being targeted for forcible deportation because of his work for migrant workers’ rights, the London-based group said.

In an open letter sent to Justice Minister Lee Kwi-nam yesterday, Catherine Baber, Amnesty’s deputy Asia-Pacific director called on the government to restore Catuira’s visa status.

The Seoul immigration office cancelled Catuira’s work permit on February 15 and ordered him to leave the country because the company he had been working for had closed down.

Amnesty called the order an attempt to crackdown on the legitimate activities of a migrants' union and to prevent migrant workers from exercising their right to freedom of association.

These rights are protected by international agreements such the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Amnesty said.

The Korean government is obliged to comply with them, the rights group added.

On March 2, the Seoul administrative court temporarily suspended the immigration office order to expel Catuira following an appeal.

But immigration officials have again ordered him to leave the country, after saying he was employed illegally.

According to the latest expulsion order Catuira has until the end of the month to leave South Korea.

Amnesty has called on the immigration department to respect the court’s decision to suspend Catuira's departure until the court rules on his appeal.

Andrew Kim Duck-jin, secretary general of the Catholic Human Rights Committee slammed the latest expulsion order.

“It should be denounced as clear targeted oppression against Catuira,” he said.

KO13757.1646

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