The Korea Herald


U.S. working to change human rights situation in N. Korea: ambassador

By 배현정

Published : April 21, 2016 - 21:37

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The United States is working hard to tackle human rights abuses in North Korea on the back of broad bipartisan support, Washington's top envoy to Seoul said Thursday.

Ambassador Mark Lippert made the remarks in a forum organized by the Far East Broadcasting Company, saying the issue of North Korea's human rights situation is one of the core concerns of the international community.

"We are also deeply concerned about the human rights situation in North Korea and are working to actively change it," he said. "There is broad bipartisan support in the U.S. for our efforts to press North Korea to improve its deplorable human rights record."

The communist regime has been accused of public executions, torture, and holding hundreds of thousands of political prisoners in concentration camps, but Pyongyang rejects them all as a U.S.-led campaign to topple its regime.   

The human rights violations have drawn renewed international attention in recent years since the U.N. Commission of Inquiry released a report in 2014 accusing the North's leadership of "crimes against humanity."

"We will continue to be a partner of the Republic of Korea (South Korea), calling out North Korea for its human rights abuses in multilateral fora like the U.N. Security Council and the Human Rights Council," Lippert said.

Last month, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a North Korea human rights resolution that centers on appointing up to two independent experts to pursue accountability for the North's human rights abuses.

As part of wide-ranging sanctions that punish Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile tests earlier this year, U.S. President Barack Obama also issued an executive order that, among other things, calls for sanctions against people who have engaged in exporting North Korean workers.

Lippert said this month's visit to Seoul by the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Ambassador Robert King, was the most recent sign of the two countries' ongoing collaboration in this "important" area.

"Respect for human rights and concrete steps toward denuclearization can lead to a path of peace, prosperity and improved relations with the international community, including the United States," he added.