A top UN rights official today said despite more than a year of international engagement and promises of economic reform by North Korea’s leaders, the human rights situation in the isolated country remains dire. Stating that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has embarked on an effort to improve living conditions by focusing on economic development, Quintana said his preliminary findings showed those efforts had not translated into improvements in the lives of most people.
Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights, today said it would be a missed opportunity if diplomatic talks with North Korea this year did not address human rights.
"It will be a missed opportunity if in 2019 human rights is not addressed by all the parties, including more importantly the government of DPR Korea," he said, United Nations investigators have charged North Korea with systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations that range from rape, torture, extrajudicial killings to running political prisoner camps.
Calling such accusations anti-regime propaganda, he called on the South Korean government to engage more strongly with Beijing to stop forced repatriations of North Korean defectors caught in China, which views escapees as illegal aliens rather than refugees. When asked whether South Korean officials were hesitant to raise rights with the North in their pursuit of dialogue, Ojea Quintana said Seoul officials told him improved inter-Korean relations would further improve human rights" in the reclusive state.