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Immunity Vs. accountability: Expert analysis Updated: 2021-04-21 16:16:14 KST

For further discussion on today's dismissal on damages suit filed by the victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery, let's bring in Dr. Kim Keechang, Professor of Law at Korea University Law School.
Dr. Kim, it's great to have you with us.



This is somewhat unexpected. Many had predicted the court will rule in favor of the victims as it did in its first ruling in January which made global headlines.
It gave a rare exception to sovereign immunity on grounds of restoring human rights that were violated by another state.
How do you see the contrasting result to today's verdict?

Does today's court dismissal affect the first ruling in any way? Perhaps in the compensation awarded to the victims.
The Seoul district court in January has ordered the Japanese government to pay 12 South Korean victims 100 million won per person but Japan is still unresponsive to the ruling.

Let's talk more about sovereign immunity.
(By definition, it's a principle under international law that allows a state to be shielded against the jurisdiction of foreign courts.)
Just last week, over 400 legal experts around the world issued a joint statement saying that Seoul's first ruling does not violate sovereign immunity but is consistent with evolving customary international law.
In your perspective, is sovereign immunity a permanently fixed value, or can it evolve through time?

We have seen a similar case in 2004, when an Italian court ordered the German government to compensate an Italian victim of forced labor during WWII. Are there any other similar cases that we can learn from?

Another key point of contention is individual right to a remedy.
Japan claims the issue was settled through a Seoul-Tokyo claims agreement in 1965, as well as a 'comfort women' agreement made between the S. Korean and the Japanese government in 2015.
The Seoul district court in today's ruling also said that the 2015 agreement, although it excluded victims' opinions, was not an abuse of authority.
What do you make of this?

6. There are movements in Korea to help the sexual slavery victims to take the issue to the International Court of Justice.
In your perspective, can the ICJ resolve the decades-long issue?

Dr. Kim Keechang, Professor of Law at Korea University Law School joining us tonight. We appreciate your expertise, thank you.
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