Ghanaian asylum seeker out of Korean prison

A Ghanaian man arrested while working illegally in a factory in South Korea has been released from jail because of his deteriorating health after two years in detention.

The Korea Times reports that apart from the Ghanaian, there are several asylum seekers languishing in Korean jails for several years without any judicial reviews to justify their incarceration. As a result, human rights groups, lawyers and the United Nations have been drawing the attention of the Korean government to human rights infringements of these asylum seekers. The groups have urged the Korean government to amend its refugee law to prevent “unnecessarily prolonged” detention of asylum seekers.

The Ghanaian whose name has not been given by the publication is said to be suffering from a chronic eye condition and hernia which he contracted while in detention. He was arrested in 2006 while he was working in a factory without a working visa, and released in 2008.

He has applied for refugee status, claiming his conversion to Christianity would endanger his life if he returned to his predominantly-Muslim community, but the immigration office rejected his application.

A Korean lawyer Kim Jong-chul was quoted as saying “The Constitution bans arbitrary detention, regardless of one’s legal status, meaning any detention without judicial review can be seen as arbitrary detention.”

“Under the current law, the immigration office has the sole right to detain asylum seekers as long as it wants without any court intervention. This is a grave human rights infringement,” he said.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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