Bill on human rights in North may be put to vote

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Bill on human rights in North may be put to vote

After a senior Grand National leader revealed his determination to move forward a stalled bill on North Korea human rights, a heated debate over the issue flared again between the ruling and opposition parties yesterday.

In a meeting with journalists, Representative Kim Moo-sung, floor leader of the GNP, said he will consider requesting the National Assembly speaker to arrange a vote on approving a North Korea human rights act. “It is the most painful headache,” Kim said about it.

The bill, aimed at establishing a government agency to improve the human rights situation in the North and providing financial support for the rights groups’ activities, was approved by the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee in February last year, after the Democrats walked out of the session to protest it. After the approval, the bill was sent to the Legislative and Judiciary Committee to be submitted to the main session for voting, but no deliberation has taken place yet due to the Democrats’ continuing opposition.

The Democrats have said the bill will only worsen the already frozen inter-Korean relations by irritating the North Korean regime.

After Kim’s remarks, the GNP and DP lawmakers on the legislative committee yesterday argued over the pending bill.

“I have seen reports that DP Floor Leader Park Jie-won had said he is against the bill, even if he would be criticized for having shown blind support for the North Korean regime,” said GNP Representative Shin Ji-ho. “Park must explain clearly why he is rejecting this issue.”

DP Representative Park Young-sun criticized the GNP for trying to take advantage of the sensitive issue just before the April 27 by-elections.

The bill calls for launching a North Korea human rights advisory commission under the Unification Ministry, creating a road map to improve rights situation in the North and implementing it. The rights abuses by the Kim Jong-il regime and evidence of them were also to be systemically collected.

If the bill is passed, Korea would be the third country to establish the North Korea human rights act after the United States and Japan.

A similar bill was proposed in 2005, but the then-ruling Uri Party, predecessor of the DP, blocked the voting.

After the delay in the legislature, rights advocates and groups of North Korean defectors have increasingly pressured the GNP to move the bill forward. The GNP had vowed to approve it before the end of this month’s legislative session, but no progress has been made due to the DP’s protests.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

김무성 “북한인권법 직권상정 고민 중”

“한나라 처리 의지 없다는 P세대 발언에 할 말 없더라”

한나라당 김무성 원내대표는 21일 북한 인권법안 처리 문제와 관련해 “(국회 본회의에) 직권 상정해 처리할 수 있을지 고민해 보겠다”고 말했다. 국회 법제사법위원회에 1년2개월째 계류돼 있는 북한 인권법안 처리에 대해선 민주당이 반대하고 있다.

김 원내대표는 기자간담회에서 “(처리가 안 돼) 제일 괴로운 게 북한 인권법안”이라고 밝혔다. 그러면서 “P세대라 불리는 청년들이 ‘한나라당에 처리하려는 의지가 없다’고 했을 때 할 말이 없더라”고 했다. ‘P세대’는 천안함·연평도 사건을 계기로 애국심(Patriotism) 등에 고취된 젊은이들을 가리켜 중앙일보가 명명한 단어로, P세대 대학생 9명은 최근 국회에서 김 원내대표를 만나 북한 인권법안 처리를 촉구했다.

김 원내대표는 이날 민주당 박지원 원내대표가 법안 처리에 응하지 않고 있다고 말했다. 김 원내대표는 “(북한 인권법안이) 4월 국회에서 처리되지 않으면 5월 임시국회를 소집해 논의하겠다”고 말했다.

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