This March 16, 2021, photo shows a copy of an alien registration card posted at a coronavirus testing center in the southern Seoul ward of Guro with a high population of foreigners. (Yonhap)
The state human rights watchdog on Tuesday urged local governments to withdraw their orders for migrant workers to undergo mandatory coronavirus testing, calling it "discriminatory against foreigners."
Some local governments, including Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province, issued such administrative orders earlier this month amid spikes in infections in areas and workplaces with a large number of foreign nationals. The city of Seoul revised the order Friday amid protests from the foreign community.
The administrative orders lack a reasonable cause and constitute discrimination against foreign nationals, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said, recommending an immediate cancellation of the measures.
"(The measures) could spread hatred and bias by labeling foreigners as suspected patients in need of COVID-19 testing," the panel said.
It could result in hampering infection prevention efforts and threatening the safety of the entire community, it added.
The NHRC also recommended related authorities to improve the working and living conditions of migrant workers vulnerable to infection.
The watchdog reviewed the issue after complaints were filed by the British Embassy and other members of the foreign community.
On Friday, Seoul city said it has switched the policy to a recommendation for foreign workers at high-risk business establishments to get tested for the coronavirus to prevent the transmission of the virus.
Other local governments have yet to end the mandatory testing orders. (Yonhap)