South Korea: Police adopt important reforms on policing assemblies

In response to the decision by the Korean National Police Agency [KNPA] to adopt measures to better guarantee the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, as recommended by the Police Reform Committee, Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International commented:

“The decision to change the overall approach of policing assemblies from ‘management and response’ to ‘guaranteeing the freedom of peaceful assembly’ is an important step forward. It is a change Amnesty International has long been calling for.

“The proposed stricter controls over the dispersal of assemblies, and especially over the use of water cannons and bus barricades will also help to minimize unnecessary or excessive use of police force, while facilitating demonstrations within the sight and sound of their intended targets.

“While the recommended measures are comprehensive, the authorities still need to lift the blanket ban on outdoor assemblies taking place at specific times and places. In addition, the adopted measures need to be firmly enshrined in law. The Assembly and Demonstration Act and other relevant legislation must be comprehensively revised in order to bring the rules on policing public assemblies, as well as the use of force in general, into line with international human rights law and standards.

“As recent protests, including the anti-THAAD demonstrations yesterday, show the real test will be how these new measures are now implemented in practice, including in the present challenging environment.”


In November 2016, Amnesty International published a briefing: Freedom of Peaceful Assembly in South Korea. The reforms accepted by the KPNA are consistent with many of the recommendations Amnesty International made.