By Kang Shin-who
A government resettlement center for North Korean defectors has been accused of having illegally detained a defector from the North and sending him to a mental hospital.
The National Human Rights Commission said Thursday the state resettlement center dealt with the defector, ignoring legal procedures, and infringed upon his human rights by forcibly sending him to a mental hospital one day after arriving at the center, called Hanawon.
It also said a staffer of the center abused its power just because the man protested using abusive language. The defector, who escaped from the North in 2004, came here via China and Thailand in 2009 Jan. and was sent to a mental hospital in Anseong in Gyeonggi Province.
According to the human rights agency, Hanawon failed to get due consent from the defector’s uncle, who settled here before him, in the course of committing him, even though his records included his uncle’s name and phone number.
He was discharged 70 days later with help from his uncle.
By law, a mental patient can be committed against his or her will with the consent of a guardian. When there is no guardian, the chief of the local government in the patient’s residential area can grant consent instead.
Hanawon denied knowledge of the defector’s uncle’s residence in the South. The uncle then filed a complaint with the human rights agency, claiming that Hanawon illegally hospitalized his nephew.