The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on Thursday (local time) passed the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R.2061), which calls for a five-year extension of the North Korean Human Rights Act first passed in 2004, according to Washington-based Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia.
The bill aims to provide humanitarian assistance to the North Korean people and allow them to enter the US as refugees. It also seeks to provide financial aid to civic groups and nonprofit organizations that work to promote human rights and democracy in the reclusive state.
"Everyday under the Kim (Jong-un) regime North Koreans are suffering unimaginable horrors," VOA quoted Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) as saying during a subcommittee session.
The panel also passed the DPRK Act of 2017 (H.R.2397), which aims to increase the dissemination of outside information into the North.
It amends the 2004 human rights act to authorize the US president to "distribute or provide grants to distribute information receiving devices, electronically readable devices, and other informational sources into North Korea," according to Congress' website.
It also calls for broadcasting American, Korean, Chinese and other popular music, TV programs, movies and popular cultural content to the North.
The bills will be referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and then a floor vote before being sent to the Senate. (Yonhap)