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US Envoy Urges Annan to Examine Human Rights in North Korea

The US special envoy on North Korean human rights urged UN General Secretary Kofi Annan to demand improvements to Pyongyang’s human rights standard.
( [email protected] ) Mar 31, 2006 11:12 PM EST

The US special envoy on North Korean human rights urged UN General Secretary Kofi Annan to demand improvements to Pyongyang’s human rights standard.

"We spoke about the importance of raising international consciousness on the issue of human rights in North Korea and the terrible deprivation of human rights by that regime," said Jay Lefkowitz to the press during a brief meeting.

He added that the "moral authority of the United Nations and the secretary general can add to the struggled for human rights in North Korea." The US envoy raised the case of Kim Chun-Hee, a 30-year-old North Korean woman who was deported after being arrested while hiding in China.

The Chinese government currently recognizes North Korean refugees as "illegal migrants," sometimes offering rewards to civilians whom report the refugees to the police. In other cases, North Korean agents have reportedly disguised themselves as refugees to lure unsuspecting asylum-seekers to capture.

Lefkowitz rebuked China, Thursday, for its role in repatriating North Korean refugees – many of whom reportedly face imprisonment or execution once at home.

Speaking at American Enterprise Institute Think Tank, yesterday, he stated, "A key way to empower the North Korean people is to force a ray of light through the veil that Kim Jong Il has drawn over North Korea."

Lefkowitz pointed that asylum-seekers in China "are neglected; they are not treat humanely." He added that China was "violating and ignoring" its international pledge to protect and recognize the status of North Korean refugees.

At the Think Tank, he also stated that South Korean authorities were not doing enough to prevent the atrocities committed by North Korea. Food packages from the South, he added, are given to North Korean officials without ensuring the donations are delivered to average citizens.

Last December, Pyongyang attracted headlines after it expelled foreign aid workers distributing food in North Korea, claiming that food was no longer needed.