Fresh obstacle for passage of North’s rights bill

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Fresh obstacle for passage of North’s rights bill

The ruling Grand National Party’s attempt to move forward the long-pending North Korean human rights bill was blocked by the opposition Democrats yesterday as the deadlock in the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee continued over the liberals’ competing bill.

Lawmakers were scheduled to have a discussion yesterday on the bill, which has been stuck in the committee for more than a year, after the ruling and opposition parties agreed last month to resume deliberation.

The GNP-sponsored bill on North Korean human rights was approved at the Foreign, Trade and Unification Affairs Committee on Feb. 22, 2010. It was submitted to the Legislation and Judiciary Committee two months later and deliberations took place, but the Democrats’ objected to it. The Democrats submitted a competing bill on June 14 and demanded theirs be deliberated with the GNP’s. The two bills are drastically different.

The conservative GNP-sponsored bill proposes a North Korean human rights advisory council inside the Unification Ministry, and it requires the ministry to draw up a North Korea human rights roadmap every three years. The bill also requires the Foreign Ministry to appoint a North Korea human rights ambassador and to establish a forum to conduct research and develop policies.

The bill also stipulates that South Korean humanitarian aid must get to the North Korean people and not be diverted to its military.

The liberal parties, including the Democratic and Democratic Labor Parties, criticize the restrictions on aid to the North. The DP-sponsored bill is focused on humanitarian assistance to the North. Under the bill, the unification minister is required to report to the National Assembly about the progress of human rights in the North and the humanitarian aid sent there. It also seeks to establish a humanitarian advisory council in the Unification Ministry. The DP’s plan has been criticized by both conservative politicians and defectors in the South.

As the two sides are deadlocked, it appears unlikely that the GNP’s North Korean human rights bill will be approved at the main session before the end of this month. Hwang Woo-yea, the GNP’s floor leader and the initiator of the bill, has urged the DP to cooperate in deliberations of the bill this month.

While South Korea has no law promoting human rights in the North, the United States established the North Korean Human Rights Act in 2004. The strongly worded law is focused on improving human rights conditions in the North by supporting nongovernmental groups and aiding defectors.

Japan passed a similar law in 2006 largely focused on resolving issues of the North’s abduction of Japanese citizens.


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


한글 관련 기사 [연합]

법사위, 북한인권법 재상정…여야 날선 공방

與 ‘북한인권법에 따른 남북관계 파탄 주장은 단세포적’
野 ‘北주민 인권 위한 법 아냐..정부 이견 조정해야’

여야의 대립으로 표류해온 북한인권법안이 28일 국회 법제사법위에 1년2개월여만에 다시 상정됐다.

이는 지난달 30일 여야 원내대표가 북한인권법안을 6월 임시국회에서 법사위에 상정, 논의키로 합의한 데 따른 것이다.

그러나 여야 법사위원은 이날 토론에서 북한인권법안의 내용에 근본적 시각차를 노출하면서 날선 공방을 벌여 향후 처리 과정에서 험로를 예고했다.

북한인권법안은 작년 2월11일 외교통상통일위 통과해 두 달여 뒤인 4월19일 법사위에 상정, 한차례 논의가 이뤄졌으나 이후 민주당의 반대로 진전없이 전체회의에 계류돼 왔다.

이날 토론에서 한나라당 신지호 의원은 지난 2004년 미국의 북한인권법 성안을 주도했던 로버트 킹 미 국무부 대북인권특사의 방북 사실을 거론하며 "북한인권법이 제정되면 남북관계가 파탄난다는 것은 굉장히 단세포적인 판단에 불과하다"고 지적했다.

신 의원은 민주당이 자체 발의한 '북한민생인권법안'과 북한인권법안의 병합심사를 요구하는데 대해 "북한인권법 8조에 대북 인도지원 조항이 있으며, 그것이 불충분하다면 민주당이 실효성 있는 북한지원 내용을 얘기함으로써 그것을 북한인권법에 담아내는 노력을 기울이면 된다"면서 신속한 논의를 강조했다.

같은 당 이은재 의원은 "북한의 인권이란 잘 아시는 것처럼 인간의 존엄성을 제대로 인정받지 못하는 실정"이라며 "6월 중이라도 북한인권법이 통과되도록 협조를 부탁드린다"고 말했다.

그러나 민주당 간사인 박영선 정책위의장은 "한나라당의 북한인권법은 북한 주민의 인권을 위한 법이 아니다"라며 "한나라당 스스로 '남한 내에 북한인권 인프라를 구축하기 위한 법이다'라고 공식석상에서 얘기했다"고 말했다.

박 정책위의장은 또 "국가인권위원회가 국회의장에게 2010년 두 차례 북한인권재단 설립과 관련해 '이것이 통일부로 가는 것은 부당하고 국가인권위에 해야 된다'며 이 법을 계류시켜 달라는 의견표명을 했다"며 "한나라당은 정부부처 내 이견조정을 먼저 하고, 여야 합의대로 외교통상통일위에서 북한민생인권법을 통과시켜 법사위로 보내달라"고 요구했다.

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