US lawmakers are pushing to reauthorize a bill promoting human rights and freedom in North Korea that expires this year, according to a news report Saturday.
Voice of America reported that US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has presented a bill titled "The North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017" to the Senate's Foreign Relations subcommittee on human rights. Rubio is the chairman of the subcommittee.
The act, which first went into effect in 2004 under President George W. Bush, provides the legal grounds for the US government's financial support for radio stations broadcasting to North Korea and the appointment of a special envoy on the North's human rights issues. It was reauthorized twice, in 2008 and in 2012.
The reauthorization bill also encourages more involvement from China to prevent further human rights violations, while promoting religious freedom.
Other sponsors include Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Democrats Ben Cardin from Maryland and Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
Rubio said that the US has a "moral obligation and diplomatic imperative to prioritize human rights and access to information for the North Korean people, and this bipartisan legislation would do just that."
North Korea has long been accused of the worst human rights violations by the international community. The North does not tolerate dissent, holds hundreds of thousands of people in political prison camps and keeps tight control over outside information.
The regime ferociously denies the charges, calling them efforts to topple their regime. (Yonhap)