U.S. report details North’s human rights abuses

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U.S. report details North’s human rights abuses

The U.S. State Department submitted a report to Congress detailing human rights violations involving overseas North Korean workers who are subject to harsh labor without due pay by the Pyongyang regime.

According to reports by the U.S. media, including Voice of America, the department submitted to Congress the special report on improving human rights conditions in North Korea last weekend in accordance with the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016, which was enacted in February.

The report also listed countries that repatriate North Korean defectors against their will despite their clear status as refugees fleeing the totalitarian state.

A list of nations in which North Korean workers are subject to harsh working conditions without fair pay was also included. A total of 23 countries including China, Russia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Poland were noted as such.

The list of such nations will be used by U.S. authorities to track and squeeze secret cash channels overseas used to supply Pyongyang with foreign currency as the regime seeks a way around the UN Security Council sanctions.

It is estimated between 50,000 and 60,000 North Koreans are working overseas, mostly in labor-intensive industries such as mining, logging and construction. In most cases, firms that employ North Koreans pay the North Korean regime while leaving the workers meager financial means.

The department’s latest report came less than two months after it submitted a separate report on the North’s human rights abuses and censorship to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Foreign Affairs Committee on July 6.

The July report marked the unprecedented move by Washington as it singled out North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as one of the 15 officials responsible for gross human rights violations in the totalitarian state.

In the July report, the department accused Pyongyang of serious human rights crimes, including “extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, forced labor, and torture,” and noted that many state-sponsored human rights abuses take place in the country’s concentration camps.

Washington estimated between 80,000 and 120,000 inmates, including children and family members of the accused, are being held in such camps.

BY KANG JIN-KYU, HONG JOO-HEE [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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