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UN human rights official hits China on deporting NK defectors

UN human rights official hits China on deporting NK defectors

Posted February. 23, 2012 00:29,   


The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in North Korea has urged China not to deport North Korean defectors back to the Stalinist country.

Marzuki Darusman said in a recent report to the U.N. Human Rights Council that countries surrounding the Korean Peninsula should abide by the principles stated in the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees vis-a-vis China’s repatriation of defectors.

The report came ahead of the council`s meeting to begin in Geneva next Monday. Seoul plans to raise Beijing`s forcible repatriation of defectors in the talks at the risk of stoking diplomatic friction with China.

Darusman said North Korea is giving harsh treatment to repatriated North Koreans and those related to them, putting them in concentration camps and torturing them. He recommended countries neighboring the Korean Peninsula stop repatriating defectors.

The report can be interpreted as an upgrade of the U.N.’s recommendation targeted at China from last year’s report, which mentioned the deportation of defectors at the general level.

Darusman has been actively involved in North Korean human rights. Last year, he visited South Korea to check the situation of a South Korean woman and her two daughters who are believed to be detained at a concentration camp in the North. In this year’s report, the U.N. official also urged immediate repatriation of the woman’s family to the South.

The Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry in Seoul is agonizing over whether to specify China when it raises the forcible repatriation of defectors at the U.N. human rights council meeting. If it does, China will likely launch an immediate protest at the meeting and a bilateral debate could blur the focus.

Seoul’s offensive could also prompt Beijing to refuse bilateral cooperation on defectors. “We are agonizing over our relations with China and our national interest,” a senior official at the South Korean Foreign Ministry said. “We are in a situation in which we must keep rewriting the statement on our position before we enter the venue of the meeting.”