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Supreme Court rules state responsible for abuses of Hansen’s disease patients

한센인 단종·낙태 처음으로 국가 책임 확정

Supreme Court rules state responsible for abuses of Hansen’s disease patients


The Supreme Court has made its ruling that acknowledges state responsibility in the forced abortions and sterilization of patients with Hansen’s disease for the first time.


This is the first final ruling of its kind since 539 Hansen survivors began filing class action suits in 2011.


The Supreme Court’s third division upheld an original court ruling in a suit filed by 19 plaintiffs, against the Korean government to claim damages. The ruling ordered the state to pay 40 million won each to ten former Hansen’s disease patients forced to undergo abortions and 30 million won each to nine people who had undergone forced sterilization.


Even amid South Korea‘s push to correct forms of discrimination, it has continued the practice of Japanese occupation-era style of sterilization and pregnancy termination after the country’s liberation in 1945 stemming from the incorrect belief that Hansen’s disease was hereditary.


In the cases in Sorok Island, Incheon, Iksan, Chilgok, and Andong, patients have not only suffered from Hansen’s disease, but have also suffered infringements of their basic human rights.

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