United Nations: Human rights violations in North Korea 'serious'

Updated: Jan 12, 2019, 16:35 IST | Agencies | Seoul

The Argentine lawyer called on the South Korean government to engage more strongly with Beijing to stop forced repatriations of North Korean defectors caught in China

UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana spoke in Seoul
UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana spoke in Seoul

A senior UN official warned on Friday it would be a "missed opportunity" if diplomatic talks with North Korea this year did not address human rights, urging Seoul and Washington to highlight the issue.

The impoverished but nuclear-armed nation stands accused by United Nations investigators of "systematic, widespread and gross" human rights violations that range from rape, torture, extrajudicial killings to running political prisoner camps. Pyongyang calls such accusations anti-regime propaganda.

A second meeting between Kim and Trump is expected soon. "It will be a missed opportunity if in 2019 human rights is not addressed by all the parties, including more importantly the government of DPR Korea," said Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the North, using the North's official name. The human rights situation remained "serious" in the isolated country, he told reporters in Seoul, despite last year's diplomatic developments.

The Argentine lawyer called on the South Korean government to engage more strongly with Beijing to stop forced repatriations of North Korean defectors caught in China. Returnees to the authoritarian state can face torture, according to campaigners and rights groups.

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