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U.S. State Dept. comments on the forced return of N. Korean fishermen

U.S. State Dept. comments on the forced return of N. Korean fishermen

Posted July. 20, 2022 07:58,   

Updated July. 20, 2022 07:58


About the decision of the former Moon Jae-in administration to forcibly return the fishermen from North Korea, the U.S. State Department said it has a profound concern about the human rights record in the communist regime and it shares such concerns with South Korea.

Asked about the fishermen who escaped Pyongyang and were forcibly repatriated back to the North and how this will affect human rights issues during a Monday briefing, Spokesperson Edward Price said his department has “profound concerns with the human rights record of the regime in the DPRK,” in addition to the many concerns it has with the regime, “with its conduct on the international stage.” This is the first time that Washington has expressed a public stance on the case of repatriated fishermen from North Korea.

“We’ve spoken on a number of recent occasions about the unprecedented number of ballistic missile tests that the DPRK regime has undertaken in recent weeks. But our concerns with the DPRK regime doesn’t stop with its WMD programs,” Spokesperson Price added. He also stressed that Washington shares such concerns with its allies and partners around the world and its ally, the Republic of Korea. Mr. Price said the State Department has “certain tools, including tools that we’ve wielded, to exact a degree of accountability for the atrocities and the human rights abuses that have taken place within the DPRK.”

But he added, “when it comes to the removals of individuals from the ROK, I would have to defer to the ROK Government to speak to that process.” The spokesperson chose to avoid making a specific comment on the process of repatriation as there is an ongoing investigation into it.

In a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council on July 14, the Amnesty International pointed out an administrative and legal system needs to be established so that anyone seeking asylum must be guaranteed with a due legal process including non-refoulement. Non-refoulement is a principle under international law stipulating no one should be returned to a country where they would face persecution, inhuman or degrading treatment, or other irreparable harm.

Amnesty said Thursday that the North Korean fishermen “were denied the right to a fair trial,” adding, “the decision to send them back to North Korea violated the principle of non-refoulement,” in an op-ed for the Voice of America (VOA).