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UN urges N.Korea to free SK detainee and her 2 daughters

UN urges N.Korea to free SK detainee and her 2 daughters

Posted May. 30, 2012 05:11,   


The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has urged North Korea to free a South Korean woman, Shin Sook-ja, and her two daughters detained at a concentration camp. This is the first time for the world body to officially recognize the North`s forced detention of individuals.

The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea held a news conference Tuesday with Shin`s husband Oh Kil-nam and released a statement sent by the U.N. body. The U.N. said in the statement that the continued detention since 1987 of Shin and her two daughters "has been and is arbitrary," adding it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 8-11 and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Articles 9 and 14.

"We request North Korea take necessary steps to remedy the situation, which are the immediate release of, and adequate reparation to, these persons," the statement said.

South Korean lawmaker-elect Ha Tae-kyung, who leads the coalition, said, "For the U.N. to confirm North Korea`s forced detention is unprecedented," adding, "The decision reflects the U.N.`s firm will to resolve the issue."

In 1993, the U.N. body had registered Oh`s petition but was rejected due to lack of support for facts. Back then, North Korea denied that it was detaining Shin and her two daughters by sending the addresses of schools the daughters were attending. Defectors from the North`s notorious Yoduk prison camp, however, said they saw Shin and her daughters between 1993 and 1995.

Based on the latest decision, the coalition filed a lawsuit against Pyongyang with the International Criminal Court for failure to handle Shin`s supposed death and launched a committee for the repatriation of Shin and her two daughters.

The group also delivered a request letter to Germany, where the three women had lived before going to North Korea, and will hold rallies at North Korea diplomatic offices in major cities including New York and Geneva. In particular, it promotes to the world the fates of the two daughters, who have been confirmed to be alive.

Choi Sung-yong, chairman of the North Korea Abductee Family Association, said, "We got information that Shin`s two daughters are being held in custody near Pyongyang. We heard that they are under strict surveillance along with the daughter of Megumi Yokota (a Japanese kidnap victim of North Korea)."

The South Korean government is also seeking action on the matter. Seoul had refrained from making an official response, saying Oh`s petition was a personal issue, and considering fairness for other people abducted by North Korea.

The U.N. body`s latest decision, however, has provided more room for Seoul to make official responses. A source at the South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry said, "Since the U.N. has recognized North Korea`s forced detention, the (South Korean) government now has reason to take action," adding, "We will raise the two daughters` repatriation to the world community and demand other measures."