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Statement of Chairperson: Positive assessment of the Convention against Torture, strengthening of the prohibition of forcible repatriation of North Korean defectors
Date : 2024.01.25 17:34:01 Hits : 284

Statement of Chairperson: Positive assessment of the Convention against Torture, strengthening of the prohibition of forcible repatriation of North Korean defectors


The Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (Song Doohwan) welcomes the adoption by consensus without a vote of the resolution on human rights in North Korea at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly on the afternoon of 19 December, 2023.


In addition to previous resolutions on accountability for human rights violations in North Korea, the resolution condemns North Korea's use of forced labor to finance its military expenditures, highlights the link between human rights and the nuclear issue, notes the DPRK's absolute monopoly on information to strengthen its control over the population, and recommends that the DPRK allow the establishment of independent media and review the Law on Rejecting Reactionary Ideology and Culture, which suppresses freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief.


In particular, in light of the recent large-scale forcible repatriation of North Korean defectors from China following the resumption of cross-border movement between North Korea and China, the NHRCK commend the Council for raising the issue of China's forcible repatriation, albeit obliquely, and for "strongly urging all member states to respect the principle of non-refoulement" ahead of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) next year.


Given that North Korean defectors face serious human rights abuses, including torture, imprisonment, forced abortion, forced labor and execution if forcibly returned, the inclusion in the resolution of a call for compliance with the Convention against Torture, which prohibits deportation, refoulement and extradition to countries where they would be at risk of torture, is significant given that China, which does not recognise the refugee status of North Korean defectors, is a party to the Convention against Torture.


For reference, the NHRCK issued a statement in June last year calling for action by the Chinese and South Korean governments to prevent the forcible repatriation of North Korean defectors, and in September and October sent letters to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea, urging the UN to take a more active role in addressing the issue.


The NHRCK urge the international community to adopt the human rights resolutions on North Korea adopted annually by the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council to improve the human rights of North Koreans and to ensure that North Korea and China, both UN member states and parties to international conventions, actively implement them so that North Korean defectors in third countries are protected from the risk of forced repatriation and the human rights of North Koreans are improved.


Furthermore, as the Korean nationals who have been forcibly detained in North Korea for a long time and the separated families of North and South Korea are aging, it is our hope that humanitarian measures will be taken promptly to alleviate their suffering, as the issues of verification of the safety and whereabouts of abductees, reunification of separated families and transportation are very urgent.

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