Former comfort women file lawsuit against official pact

Korean and Japanese deal over shameful past is a violation of the women's rights as victims, say lawyers
Former comfort women file lawsuit against official pact

A statue of a teenage girl symbolizing Korean women, who served as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II, as seen in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, Jan. 6. (Photo by AFP) reporter, Seoul
South Korea
April 8, 2016
Sex slave victims of the former Japanese imperial forces filed a constitutional complaint against the 'mutual agreement' between Japanese and Korean government arguing that it infringes on their basic rights.

Lawyers for a Democratic Society announced March 27 that 29 comfort women and the families of eight deceased victims filed the lawsuit.

"The Korean government violated its constitutional duty by blocking their rights to demand against the Japanese government," said the lawyers group.

"The grandmothers' fundamental rights such as rights to property, rights to dignity, rights to be protected diplomatically by the government were infringed, which is obvious unconstitutional."

At the same time, the lawyers argued that the agreement signed by the Korean government is a declaration of its abandonment to its duty and a 'political compromise' that infringes upon the women's inviolable rights.

In 2011, the Constitutional Court of Korea ruled that the government should assist the former so-called comfort women in seeking justice against Japan over its behavior during the Japanese colonial period.

The lawyers said the exclusion of the comfort women from the process of an agreement between the two governments is a violation of their rights as victims.

Last December, foreign ministers of both countries reached an agreement where Japan would pay to establish a foundation to take care of the sex slave survivors. Also, the agreement declared that both governments would regard the issue as being finally resolved.

After the agreement became known, Bishop Yoo Heung-sik, president of the Committee for Justice and Peace under the Korean bishops' conference, asked the Korean government to renegotiate the agreement. The bishop argued that it is absurd to agree to such a compromise without the victim's consent.

Teresa Kim Sun-shil, co-president of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, said, "the agreement lacks principles so the grandmothers cannot authorize it."

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