Rights experts flock to Seoul to discuss regime

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Rights experts flock to Seoul to discuss regime

Top envoys on North Korean human rights from Washington and the UN are in Seoul this week to work with officials and activists to cooperate on the adoption of a strongly-worded United Nations resolution condemning Pyongyang that is expected to pass in the General Assembly soon.

Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, arrived in Seoul yesterday for a three-day trip after North Korea on Saturday released two American detainees sentenced to hard labor, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller, through a secret mission led by James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence.

Another American hostage, Jeffrey Fowle, was released by Pyongyang on Oct. 21.

King, who is scheduled to speak with Hwang Joon-kook, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, is expected to discuss the recent release of the U.S. detainees by Pyongyang.

He is also expected to discuss with Seoul officials the ongoing international efforts for the adoption of a UN resolution which calls for the referral of Pyongyang’s crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court in the General Assembly and Security Council.

Marzuki Darusman, UN special rapporteur on North Korea and a member of the UN Commission of Inquiry into the crimes against humanity in Pyongyang, also kicked off a five-day visit to Seoul on Monday. During his visit, Darusman will gather information needed for a report to submit to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on the North Korean human rights situation.

Reuters reported yesterday that North Korea’s mission to the United Nations at the end of last month halted its charm offensive and suspended talks with the European Union in hopes of halting the UN resolution, which also encourages the Security Council to consider targeted sanctions on human rights abusers.

The EU and Japan are the main sponsors of a UN resolution which is expected to be passed by a committee of the General Assembly this month and by the General Assembly next month.

But the resolution is likely to be vetoed by China in the Security Council.

Darusman and King will also attend a human rights forum hosted by the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul on Thursday.

They will speak as panelists along with Lee Jung-hoon, the Korean Foreign Ministry’s ambassador for human rights, at the 4th Chaillot Human Rights Forum.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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