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UN asks North and South Korea to open human rights discussions

[JURIST] The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Demoractic People's Republic of Korea [official website], Tomas Ojea Quintana [official profile], is asking [press release] North and South Korea to open discussions concerning human rights following his second visit to South Korea. Quintana argued the proposed the resumption of communication between the two nations [NYT report] will present an opportunity for more open discussions on not only military issue, but humanitarian ones as well. Quintana's recommendation comes after a five-day trip to South Korea where he met with numerous government officials as well as the leaders of numerous representatives from humanitarian groups. North Korea denied his requests for access to the country. Quintana voiced concern over the increase of North Koreans being found in China to then be deported back to North Korea where they will likely face harsh labor sentences. As a result, Quintana also asked China to stop its policy of deporting North Koreans that are found within their borders. A full report is expected to be presented to the UN General Assembly sometime in October.

North Korea is well known for human rights violations, which has led to frequent sanctions. Last month Quintana urged [JURIST report] the UNHRC and the UN member states to bring human rights violations committed by North Korea before the International Criminal Court and address "the grave human rights situation" in the country. Earlier that month Freedom House [advocacy website], an "independent watchdog organization," released [JURIST report] its 2017 "Freedom in the World" report, listing North Korea as one of the least-free nations in the world. In January the Obama administration expanded sanctions [JURIST report] against North Korea for alleged human rights violations, adding eight North Korean government officials to the Specially Designated Nationals List. Kim Jong-un and 10 other high ranking officials were placed on the list [JURIST report] in July after the release of the report detailing the human rights violations in the country. In December, the Institute for National Security Strategy released a report [JURIST report] asserting that Kim ordered the executions of 340 people in the five years that he has been in power.

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