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Pending North Korean human rights bills gain momentum

Posted November. 20, 2014 02:41,   


The international community has increased pressure on North Korea for human rights as represented by the United Nations’ adoption of the more powerful North Korean Human Rights resolution on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the discussion over the North Korean Human Rights bill has been going on for a decade in the National Assembly in Korea.

The ruling Saenuri Party urged for the legislation of a North Korean Human Rights bill based on the U.N.’s adoption of the resolution. Rep. Lee Wan-gu, the party’s floor leader, said in the party’s senior members’ meeting on Wednesday, “The North Korean human rights bill is pending in the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee of the National Assembly, where we expect more specific and serious discussions.” Rep. Lee In-je and Rep. Won Yoo-cheol also asked for the fast passage of the bill.

In August 2005, Rep. Kim Moon-soo of the then ruling Hannara Party first proposed the bill on North Korean human rights. Among lawmakers of the 19th National Assembly, Yoon Sang-hyun, Hwang Jin-ha, Lee In-je, Cho Myeong-chul, and Shim Yoon-jo also sponsored a North Korean human rights bill. The bills focus on creating a North Korean human rights archive to investigate human rights violations in North Korea and store and archive documents, complying with international standards so that humanitarian aid cannot be sued for military purposes and setting up a North Korean human rights basic plan and a North Korean human rights foundation.

From opposition parties, Rep. Yoon Hoo-deok of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy sponsored a bill on North Korean human rights. The gist of the bill is to create a humanitarian advisory committee and a humanitarian information center in the Unification Ministry to promote humanitarian aids and contribute to human rights in North Korea. The North Korean human rights bill sponsored by Rep. Shim Jae-gwon also suggested the dialogue on human rights between the two Koreas and humanitarian aids.

Some lawmakers point out that both ruling and opposition parties can hardly come to agreement because the ruling party focuses on poor human rights conditions in North Korea and the opposition parties stress aids to the North.

“We’re making one unified bill by combining five bills sponsored by the Saenuri Party and reflecting some opinion from the opposition parties,” Rep. Shim Yoon-jo, an assistant administrator of the Saenuri Party and a member of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, said in an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo. “We could submit it to the parliament next week.”