[EDITORIALS]Support rights in North Korea

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[EDITORIALS]Support rights in North Korea

Cho Young-whang, president of the National Human Rights Commission, told the National Assembly yesterday, “We do not have an official position on North Korean human rights issues.”
He also said, “But we will continue our efforts in finding out the human rights situation in the North. We will prepare our official position on the issue after internal discussions.” Two years ago, the commission said it did not have proper information on the North Korean human rights situation. It seems that the commission is still procrastinating even though two years have passed.
The human rights situation in North Korea is worsening as exhibited by the recent execution of a North Korean defector. But the South Korean government recently abstained from voting on the UN resolution’s on North Korean human rights. Seoul thinks that if it voted for the resolution, it would hinder dialogue with Pyongyang. But that is wrong. There is no guarantee that Seoul’s negotiation power will increase if it tries to avoid irritating Pyongyang.
The National Human Rights Commission, whose priority should be caring for the human rights of North Koreans, is now supporting the South Korean government’s policy. By doing so, it destroys the purpose of its own existence. The commission was established on the recommendation of the United Nations. The commission’s foremost purpose is to promote international human rights laws domestically. But it failed to present any opinion on the UN resolution.
Last year, the commission recommended abolishing the National Security Law, saying that it may infringe on human rights due to its arbitrary application. It also presented concerns about such recent issues as discriminatory retirement ages for civil servants, inspection of student diaries by elementary school teachers, setting height and weight limitations for police officer applicants and the labor reform bill. After doing so, critics alleged it was abusing its authority. Now, why does such a commission remain silent on North Korean human rights issues? Is it being politically influenced by the administration?
President Roh Moo-hyun said, “There are times you have to be red in the face with anger and criticize North Korea.” Protecting human rights is a universal value separate from political ideologies and systems. Protection from harm is a basic right.
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