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South Korea lawmakers approve resolution on human rights in North Korea

[JURIST] The National Assembly of the Republic of Korea [official website] passed a resolution on Wednesday addressing the human rights situation in North Korea. A total of 212 legislators voted on the bill, which will become official law when approved by the Cabinet. The bill, proposed in 2005 but stalled by political disagreement, will fund civil activist groups and archive rights abuses committed in the north. The legislation comes the same day the UN Security Council announced new sanctions [WP report] against North Korea for the nation's recent armament testing. Opponents of the sanctions are concerned that they will have a "devastating impact on the North Korean economy" [NK News report] by hampering its ability to join the region's burgeoning economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] calling for [press release] the South Korean government to pass legislation that would promote human rights in North Korea [JURIST report]. Last month the UN Special Rapporteur on North Korea Marzuki Darusman called for Kim Jong-Un 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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