An amendment to the enforcement decree, which contains grounds for banning or restricting assemblies on roads near the presidential office in Yongsan, Seoul, has passed the National Police Commission. As the president’s office moved to Yongsan and the presidential residence and office were separated, assemblies and demonstrations could not be prevented with the logic of ‘official residence = office’, people questioned whether they were trying to block the assembly in front of the presidential office under the pretext of ‘traffic communication’. comments emerge.
According to the coverage of the Kyunghyang Shinmun on the 7th, the National Police Commission, the highest deliberation and decision-making body of the police, held a plenary meeting the afternoon before and passed the original bill on the amendment to the Enforcement Decree of the Assembly and Demonstration Act. Amendments that have passed the National Police Commission will go into effect in the second half of this year at the earliest if they pass the Cabinet meeting after a legislative notice and deliberation by the Presidential Regulatory Reform Committee.
The amendment to the Enforcement Decree, which passed the Police Commission, added 11 roads, including Itaewon-ro near the Yongsan Presidential Office, to the ‘main roads’ of Article 12 of the Assembly and Demonstration Act. Itaewon Road is a 3.1km-long road that connects the subway Samgakji Station, Noksapyeong Station, Itaewon Station, and Hangangjin Station, and connects the Presidential Office of President Yoon Seok-yeol with the Presidential Office.
Under Article 12 of the current Assembly and Demonstration Act, assemblies and demonstrations can be banned or restricted with conditions if the chief of the competent police station deems it necessary for traffic flow on major roads set by presidential decree. When the amendment goes into effect, assemblies and demonstrations around Itaewon-ro, which usually have a lot of traffic, are expected to be completely banned.
The amendment also strengthened the noise control standards at the sites of assemblies and demonstrations. The current Enforcement Decree of the Assembly and Demonstration Act stipulates that assemblies and demonstrations held near residential areas, schools, general hospitals, and public libraries exceed the maximum noise standard three or more times in one hour, or when the noise measured for 10 minutes exceeds the average noise standard. did. The amendment reduced the number of violations of the highest noise standard to more than two per hour, and also reduced the average noise measurement time to five minutes.
Previously, in November of last year, the National Police Commission put the brakes on the amendment, saying that the amendment bill prepared by the police excessively restricts freedom of assembly and demonstration. In response, the National Police Agency came up with a supplementary measure to establish a new sunset regulation that reviews ‘major roads’ every three years. An official from the National Police Commission said, “In addition to this, we requested the National Police Agency to report the reasons to the National Police Commission on a quarterly basis if assemblies and demonstrations on major roads are banned or restricted.
The National Police Agency says the amendment to the enforcement decree has nothing to do with assemblies and demonstrations in front of the presidential office. It is the result of a review over the past year, regardless of the relocation of the presidential office, by consistently applying two criteria, the number of assemblies and demonstrations over the past five years, and the average travel speed. However, civil society organizations criticized the measure as a complete ban on gatherings in front of the presidential office.
Attorney Seon-Hyu Kim (Operator of the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy Public Interest Law Center) said, “The police have been notifying the assembly ban on the basis of Article 11 of the Assembly and Demonstration Act, ‘the presidential residence,’ but the court has concluded that it is groundless.” At that time, I wonder if the police pushed for the revision of this enforcement ordinance to prepare a new legal basis to restrict assemblies and demonstrations near the presidential office.”
Attorney Kim said, “In light of existing precedents, freedom of expression in front of the presidential office cannot be excessively restricted just because Itaewon-ro is included as a major road.” It’s important,” he said.