Welcoming the Court's Ruling against the Immigration Service's Cancellation of MTU President Michel Catuira's Visa!


On September 15, 2011 the Seoul 12th Administrative Court issued a verdict cancelling all punitive immigration measures taken by the Seoul Immigration Service against MTU President Michel Catuira including the ‘cancellation of the permit to transfer workplaces’, ‘cancellation of the extension of residence period’ (equal to cancellation of President Catuira’s visa) and ‘order to leave the country’, measures taken on February 10, 2011, and the ‘denial of application for extension of the residence period’, and ‘notice of requirement to leave the country,’ measures taken on March 17, 2011. 


We believe that the court’s decision reflects the just and legitimate claims MTU and the entire migrant rights movement have made throughout the course of President Catuira’s investigation and trial. Together with MTU’s members and all of the migrant rights organizations that fought alongside President Catuira, we whole-heartedly welcome the court’s ruling. To all those who have given their support and solidarity, we give our heartfelt gratitude.


In relation to the Seoul Immigration Service’s claim that the company where President Catuira was employed did not exist and its cancellation of his visa, the court ruled that, “There is no evidence worthy of noting to suggest that [President Catuira] obtained his permits [of employment and residence] in a false or otherwise unlawful manner.” In other words, the court acknowledge that President Catuira’s previous workplace did in fact exist, and that the Immigration Service’s denial of the extension of President Catuira’s residence permit after an injunction against the measure cancelling it had been issues was also unjust. (Please refer to the timeline of events below for details).


In relation to President Catuira’s activities as the leader of MTU, the court ruled, “Based on Article 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, Article 2.1 and Article 23.4 of the International Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 2.1 and Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 2.2 and Article 8.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, it is correct to understand the basic rights enjoyed by workers… as applying to migrant workers as well…” In addition, the court stated that in light of the Seoul Immigration Service’s deportation of MTU officers in the past, “It is suspected the [immigration measures taken against President Catuira] were not taken for the ostensible reason given but, in fact, because of the plaintiff’s [President Catuira’s] activities as leader of the Migrants’ Trade Union.” In other words, the court affirmed that President Catuira had not been falsely employed, that the measures taken against him could be understood as acts of repression against MTU and that migrant workers’ labor rights are protected in the South Korean Constitution and in international law.


We call on the Seoul Immigration Service to respect the court’s ruling and immediately restore President Catuira’s visa status, desist in its repression of MTU and take the necessary steps to fully protect migrant workers’ labor rights. At the same time, we proclaim that we will continue to defend MTU and to fight until we have won respect for migrant workers’ human and labor rights.


September 15, 2011

Alliance for Migrants’ Equality and Human Rights


Timeline of Events

- March 5, 2010: President Catuira hired by company D.

- July 13: President Catuira and employer are interviewed at the East Seoul Ministry of Labor office.

- August: The East Seoul Ministry of Labor sends request to employer asking him to apply for a change of workplace for President Catuira given that his company has no work.

- November 19: the East Seoul Ministry of Labor sends employer a memo “requesting opinion on the pending cancellation of employment permit.” (The Eastern Seoul Ministry of Labor claims to have visited the company 3 times).

- November 23: The Seoul Immigration Service’s Special Immigration Investigation Team sends President Catuira and his employer request to appear for an interview by December 3 based on, “suspicion of violations of the Immigration Control Law in the course of applying for a workplace transfer and with relation to actual performance of work duties at present.”

- November 25: As President Catuira’s legal representative, Gonggam lawyer Yun Ji-yeong checks details of suspicions against President Catuira. The Immigration Service mentions suspicion of violation of Article 89 (cancellation of change of permits) and Article 17 (scope of foreigners’ stay and activities) of the Immigration Control Act.

- December 2: the East Seoul Ministry of Labor sends notice of cancellation of ‘permit to employ foreign workers’ to the employer.

- December 6: The Chief of the Seoul Immigration Service sends request for second appearance to President Catuira.

- December 8: KCTU, Minbyun Labor Committee meet Chief of Seoul Immigration, receive assurance that President Catuira will not be arrested upon appearance.

- December 22: Following a press conference President Catuira appears for interview at Seoul Immigration Service. There is no mention of “prohibition of political activities” (Article 17 above), only detailed questioning concerning accusation of ‘false employment’.

- February 14, 2011: Seoul Immigration Service notifies lawyer of cancellation of residence permit and order to leave the country and sends a fax dated Feb. 10.

- February 15: President Catuira and lawyer agree to file for an injunction.

- March 3: the Seoul 12th Administrative Court grants injunction stopping the execution of all immigration measures until suit against them is complete.

- March 5: President Catuira applies for extension of residence permit to cover period allowed for finding new employment (until April 6).

- March 17: Seoul Immigration Service denies extension of residence permit and sends notice to leave country.

- March 22: President Catuira applies for G-1 visa (permit of residence for humanitarian reasons) at Seoul Immigration Service.

- March 29: Seoul Immigration Service sends notice of denial of G-1 visa.

- September 15: 12th Seoul Administrative Court issues verdict cancelling all punitive immigration measures against President Catuira.