Human Rights Committee “Expanding youth suffrage, remaining tasks to be solved”

▲ Correspondent Jeong Ki-hoon

On the 18th, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea recommended the National Assembly, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, and the National Election Commission to improve the system to expand youth suffrage, such as lowering or deleting the age limit for campaigning. They urged the promotion of basic political rights of youth, such as lowering the age standards for election campaigns, as well as lowering the age standards for local autonomy systems such as referendums and recalls, and developing educational guidelines and precautions to allow mock voting and implement mock voting. The Human Rights Committee held a full committee meeting on the 6th of last month to recommend the government to improve the age standard, and decided to express an opinion urging the National Assembly to process related bills.

The Human Rights Commission considered that the bill to expand youth suffrage recently passed by the National Assembly was insufficient. At the plenary session of the National Assembly on the 31st of last month, the National Assembly passed the amendment to the Public Official Election Act, which lowered the age of voting rights for members of the National Assembly and local elections from 25 to 18. On the 11th of this month, an amendment to the Political Party Act was passed to lower the age for joining a political party from 18 to 16.

Although Article 60(1) of the Public Official Election Act prohibits the election campaign of youth under the age of 18, the law does not regulate youth election campaigns in countries with established democracy, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. After the voting right was lowered to 18 through the revision of the Public Official Election Act in 2019, the age standard for claimants for the resident ordinance and resident audit was lowered to 18 with the revision of the Local Autonomy Act last month. However, the age standard for the referendum system and recall is still 19 years old.

The Human Rights Committee pointed out that youth should be considered as voters who determine the future level of our social democracy and that we need to support youth to grow into voters with the attitude and competence of a democratic citizen. The Human Rights Commission said, “It is necessary to develop and disseminate related educational guidelines and precautions so that mock voting can be implemented in the educational field.”

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