A new report from the U.S. Department of State hinted that the U.S. would intensify its efforts to promote human rights in North Korea.
The report entitled ‘Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2005-2006’ was released April 5 as the follow-up to the U.S. Department of State’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released March 8, according to an official statement.
The Bush administration will be working closely with other concerned governments, such as China and South Korea, to improve the human rights in North Korea, as the report suggested.
For China, the U.S. urges the country to protect, assist and help permanently resettle North Korean refugees. In particular, it must "fulfill its international obligations under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and as a signatory to its 1967 Protocol," the report says. China has deported North Koreans to the DPRK, where many faced severe punishment, including execution in some cases.
The U.S. continues to call upon China to allow the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) access to this vulnerable population to assess needs and determine its status.
To all other countries, the U.S. call for "concrete, verifiable, and sustained improvements" in North Korean human rights as an important component of their bilateral relations with North Korea.
North Korea remains "one of the most repressive countries in the world," according to the State Department report. The regime, under the absolute power of Kim Jong Il, controls many aspects of citizens' lives, denying freedom of speech, religion, the press, assembly and association, the report says. It is estimated that around 150,000 to 200,000 persons - many of whom are tortured and starved - are held in detention camps in remote areas.
In 2005, the secretary of state again designated the DPRK a "Country of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act for severe violations of religious freedom.
Christians around the world are very concerned about the human rights and religious freedom issue in North Korea. A joint-agency Global Week of Prayer for North Korea on June 19-25 will be launched to call to urgent prayer against the devastating darkness oppressing North Korea.