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Bill Seeks to Raise N. Korea`s Human Rights

Posted July. 21, 2008 03:38,   


The ruling Grand National Party will seek to pass a bill on improving human rights in North Korea within a day or two.

The draft bill includes helping the North Korean people in addition to those who fled the North.

To be initiated by lawmaker Hwang Jin-ha, also the party’s vice policy director for national security, unification and diplomacy policies, the plan will cover the North Korean people, defectors, prisoners of war, those kidnapped by North Korea and separated families.

The Unification Ministry will also establish a basic plan on improving human rights in North Korea including humanitarian aid and yearly improvement of human rights. A committee on North Korea’s human rights comprising 15 vice ministers and private experts will examine the plan.

The ministry will also seek to provide the North Korean people with free circulation and flow of information about liberal democracies outside the North.

Seoul will also subsidize private organizations seeking to improve human rights in North Korea.

The bill also emphasizes transparency on humanitarian aid to North Korea.

Article 9 specifies conditions for humanitarian aid to North Korea like this: the aid should be delivered and distributed under internationally acknowledged standards; the North Koreans receiving aid should be informed of who the provider is; and the aid cannot be used for other ends such as political and military purposes.

The plan also specifies what South Korea should do for North Korean defectors. Article 11 says the government should ensure that escapees are not forcibly returned to North Korea and are admitted as refugees.

The draft bill had been promoted by the party as an agenda for the 17th National Assembly, but did not pass due to opposition by the Roh Moo-hyun administration and insufficient parliamentary votes. The plan is likely to pass this time since the party holds a majority in parliament.

The plan, however, is expected to face opposition by the main opposition Democratic Party and others.