[EDITORIALS]Solving the Defector IssueThe United Nations Human Rights Committee will review the human rights issue in North Korea on Thursday and Friday. It is of interest what recommendations the commission will make to the North, which has submitted a country report for the first time in 16 years.
We believe the international community should pay attention to the human rights issue within the North. But prior to this, we would like to suggest that the international community devise practical solutions to the human rights problem of North Korean defectors. Even if the committee proposes improvements to the situation in the North, the North is highly likely to brand it as "interference in internal affairs." Therefore, it is not only imperative but would be more effective to build an international protection network for the North Korean defectors who have fled to China.
China is not endowing international refugee status to the defectors, but instead is labeling them illegal trespassers and sending them back to the North as soon as it finds them. Therefore, the defectors are barely managing to live day by day, always in danger of human trafficking and enforced labor, while on the run from North Korean officials. Some defectors are said to have even been executed by the Chinese government after getting involved in crimes in order to survive.
To find a breakthrough from human rights violations of the worst case, the United Nations should draw up measures to acknowledge the defectors as political refugees or endow them commensurate status. Even if defectors fled the North for economic reasons, once deported to the North they will surely suffer throughout their lives and live under constant political persecution. Because China has come to host the 2008 Olympic Games, it should no longer bring upon itself international criticism for human rights violations.