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UN’s NK Human Rights Rapporteur: Repatriated Defectors Face Danger

UN’s NK Human Rights Rapporteur: Repatriated Defectors Face Danger

The United Nations rapporteur on North Korea's human rights on Monday raised concerns that defectors who have been forcibly repatriated to the communist regime could face torture, sexual violence, or execution without due process.

According to Voice of America on Wednesday, Elizabeth Salmón spoke on the issue at the UN General Assembly's Third Committee session in the wake of recent reports that China sent back hundreds of North Korean defectors located in border areas against their will.

Salmon said that every state is obligated under the principle of non-refoulement to halt the repatriations and to protect the North Koreans within their jurisdictions.

The rapporteur reported that under the guise of militarization, Pyongyang uses extreme surveillance over its citizens and imposes severe punishment on those caught watching or listening to foreign media.

Taking issue with the regime's exploitation of its labor force to finance its militarization, Salmon said the prioritization of military spending has led to underinvestment in social welfare, resulting in lack of necessities like food, health care, water and sanitation.

Seoul's envoy on the North's human rights, Lee Shin-hwa, said Pyongyang continues to squander scarce resources on its weapons of mass destruction programs at the expense of its people.

She also urged all UN member states to abide by the non-refoulement principle in reference to China's reported repatriation of North Korean defectors, prompting a response from Beijing's delegate that the individuals removed were illegal immigrants.

[Photo : YONHAP News]

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