HIV-Positive Korean-Chinese Man Fights Deportation

    March 04, 2008 06:54

    Hailing from Jilin Province, China, 34-year-old Heor came to South Korea last March. While he had lived here temporarily in 2000, he arrived last year hoping to stay as a permanent resident. His mother, who remarried in 1994, also lives in South Korea.

    After arriving in Seoul last March, Heor attended a vocational training school for foreigners sponsored by the Labor Ministry as a preparation to find a job. He also had a medical check-up and was preparing to apply for special immigrant status. But last May, the Public Health Center in Bongcheong-dong, Seoul sent Heor a notice asking him to come to the center to see the results of his check-up.

    Awaiting him at the center were not only the results of his check-up, but also an official from the Justice Ministry. The center informed Heor that he was HIV-positive, and the Justice Ministry official immediately took him to the immigration office and put him in solitary confinement.

    After six days in confinement, Heor signed a written promise to return to China in a week and was released. He filed a lawsuit against the government last July, and his case is pending at the Seoul Administrative Court.

    The National Human Rights Commission said Monday that the government's decision to deport a foreigner because he is HIV positive is unfair. In a statement submitted to the court, the commission held that the forcible deportation of a foreigner for being HIV positive constitutes a human rights violation, considering that HIV cannot spread from person to person by casual everyday contact.

    The commission's recommendation is not legally binding, but government agencies are to take such recommendations into account and try to implement them.

    The court is expected to rule on Heor's case on March 19. If the court rules against him, he will be deported immediately.

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