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HRW: South Korea should pass legislation on human rights in North Korea

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Monday called [press release] for the South Korean government to pass legislation that would promote human rights in North Korea. A divisive bill proposed in 2005 provides for the creation of a North Korean Human Rights Foundation (NKHRF) and a system to document and archive information about rights abuses by the North Korean government. According to HRW, the NKHRF would fund non-governmental groups to "conduct research and seek to improve the human rights situation in North Korea, educate South Koreans about rights conditions in North Korea, and provide humanitarian aid in line with international monitoring standards." The bill is divisive because it would support organizations that would actively work to undermine [VOA report] the Kim Jong-un government, potentially damaging inter-Korean relations. The bill would intensify international pressure on North Korea and would be supported by other countries focused on issues in North Korea.

Last month the UN Special Rapporteur on North Korea Marzuki Darusman called Kim to be held criminally responsible [JURIST report] for the human rights conditions in the nation. In November Japan and the EU circulated [JURIST report] a draft UN resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses and encouraging the UN Security Council to refer the country to the International Criminal Court [official website], noting reports of torture, limits on freedom of mobility, restrictions on freedom of speech, restrictions on freedom of religion, privacy infringement, arbitrary imprisonment, prison camps and more. Darusman expressed deep concerns [JURIST report] regarding human rights violations in the country just a month earlier. In November 2014 Darusman said that there is enough evidence to hold Kim responsible for "massive" human rights atrocities [JURIST report] committed in the country. In response to these concerns, the UN in June opened a new office [JURIST report] in Seoul to specifically monitor human rights in North Korea.

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