Parties agree on rights law about North

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Parties agree on rights law about North

Both ruling and opposition politicians agreed to discuss a law dealing with human rights in North Korea, an unprecedented U-turn for the opposition party.

Still, the two sides are disputing the details of their accord. The ruling Saenuri Party said the leadership of both parties consented to pass a law in February, while the opposition Democrats insisted they have only agreed to discuss the issue, not pass a bill.

“Yesterday, the leadership of the ruling and the opposition parties met with each other and agreed to pass a law advocating human rights for North Korean people at the Assembly in February,” Representative Yoon Sang-hyun of the Saenuri Party said at a senior-level party meeting yesterday.

“We are pushing the opposition hard, and they are showing some changes [in their attitude] recently.”

But Yoon admitted the two parties have very different priorities for any bill dealing with human rights in North Korea.

“The bill of our Saenuri Party is focusing on supporting civic groups, foundations or a special envoy for North Korea, while the DP’s plan is to stress improvements in living conditions in North Korea,” Yoon said.

The DP argued that discussions have just begun and that nothing has been agreed upon.

“We have introduced five bills of our own so far, but we have not discussed them at all,” Jung Sung-ho, a senior DP lawmaker, said at a briefing yesterday. “We agreed to discuss those bills but not pass them.”

Five Saenuri lawmakers and four DP reps have introduced a total of 10 bills with very different focuses.

The DP opposes increased support for the civic activists working for human rights in North Korea because such activists are usually on the far-right of the political spectrum and can be critical of the North Korean regime.

“The ruling party’s bills focus on support for the civic groups, mostly formed by North Korean defectors, and the DP’s stress [is on] increasing humanitarian aid for North Korea and inter-Korean interactions,” Jung said.

“We just proposed a discussion to combine those two different approaches and make a kind of bill for human rights and better livelihoods for North Korean people.”

“The point of our bill is to allow the government to offer subsidies to civic groups working for human rights in North Korea,” the Saenuri Party’s Yoon said.

“All the nonprofit organizations in the country are working with donations from the U.S. Congress or other American organizations and we think this is totally abnormal situation.

“The problem is that there is more than an 80 percent possibility that the DP would oppose this point,” Yoon said. “If this idea is deleted from the bill, that bill would be meaningless.”

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