New ordinance allows police to ban rallies near presidential office

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SEOUL, A revised enforcement ordinance went into effect Tuesday, allowing the police to prohibit rallies near the presidential office due to traffic control measures.

Under the new enforcement decree of the Assembly and Demonstration Act, 11 streets, including Itaewon-ro and Seobinggo-ro, have been additionally designated as "main streets" where police can ban or restrict rallies for traffic control purposes.

Itaewon-ro and Seobinggo-ro run in front of the presidential office and near the presidential residence, respectively.

It is the first time since 2014 that such a revision has been made.

The police had been resorting to the act's Article 11 mandating a ban on rallies within a 100-meter radius of the presidential residence to prohibit demonstrations near the presidential office.

Striking down the ban, the Constitutional Court ruled last year it is an excessive limit that goes beyond the legislative objectives and gave a grace period until May 31, 2024, to come up with an alternative.

The latest ordinance revision by police has drawn criticism that the move may be aimed at circumventing the court ruling.

"This revision is apparently aimed at explicitly infringing on rally participants' freedom to choose rally locations and gag people protesting against main government institutions," civic groups, including Minbyun, a group of progressive lawyers, said last week.

Police defended the revision as something that aims to keep pace with the city's fast-changing traffic conditions and urban structure, adding they will fully guarantee the right to assembly and demonstration in accordance with the relevant standards set forth by the court.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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