Human rights panel has new strategy for North

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Human rights panel has new strategy for North

South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission yesterday unveiled a long-term plan covering ways the government can boost its effectiveness in improving North Korea’s human rights situation. The roadmap is significant, given that it is the first time that a South Korean governmental body has created a long-term policy dealing with North Korean human rights issues.

“The ultimate goal [is to provide] strategies that the South Korean government can employ to systemically improve North Korea’s deteriorating human rights conditions,” an official with the watchdog agency said at a press briefing yesterday.

The commission set targets to improve human rights conditions for four primary groups: North Koreans living in that country, North Korean defectors, families separated during the Korean War, and abductees and POWs in North Korea.

In an attempt to heighten human rights awareness among North Korean authorities and ordinary residents in the country, the South Korean human rights watchdog said it will work to prevent North Korean practices that severely infringe upon human rights.

The watchdog said it will build an infrastructure in North Korea to bring about improvements in human rights, help North Koreans access outside information and abolish political boot camps.

The agency also will encourage the North Korean government to become a human rights-friendly regime.

To solve matters concerning POWs and abductees in North Korea, the commission said the South Korean government should make family reunions regular and play a central role in improving human rights conditions with networks of local and world organizations, including the United Nations.

The roadmap also suggested that the South Korean government adopt Germany’s “Freikauf method,” a tactic that West Germany used to help bring back political prisoners by paying off the East German government.

The watchdog also suggested that the South Korean government establish a government-run conference on North Korean human rights policy under the Prime Minister’s Office, and it also suggested establishing an archive of North Korean human rights materials.

The commission has been studying North Korea’s conditions via a North Korean human rights team that was established back in April.

In 2008, the commission released a report that investigated actual human rights conditions in North Korea based on interviews with North Korean defectors.

Last year, it released a report about North Korean females who suffered human rights infringements when they defected to the South.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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