Maina Kiai, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, speaks during a press conference wrapping up his week-long visit to South Korea in Seoul on January 29, 2016. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE
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A U.N. envoy Friday warned of a gradual erosion of the freedom of assembly in South Korea, and cited North Korea as an extreme example of what happens when such tendencies go unchecked.In particular, he noted cases where government officials had restricted protests by citing the inconvenience they caused or by raising the specter of the security threat posed by North Korea.And he expressed concern over police tactics used against demonstrators during rallies.That protest -- the largest South Korea has seen in nearly a decade -- erupted into violent clashes between demonstrators and police using water cannons and pepper spray.Referring to some 1,500 demonstrators who were summoned for investigation following the November 14 protest, Kiai said such actions were deterring would-be participants.
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