The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [official website], Tomás Ojea Quintana, urged [UN News Centre report] North Korea Thursday to begin to release its political prisoners in anticipation of the proposed June 12 denuclearization talks with the US.
“It might be a gradual process, it’s not that I’m saying you should open up all these prisons and release the prisoners, because I am a reasonable expert,” said Quintana. Human rights experts believe there may be more than 80,000 political prisoners in North Korea.
Quintana said that human rights must be part of the talks, saying “human rights and security and peace are interlinked.” He criticized the rights of the North Korean people being left out of previous unsuccessful denuclearization talks with the DPKR.
In December the UN human rights chief said [JURIST report] that sanctions against North Korea limit aid efforts. In November US President Donald Trump placed [JURIST report] North Korea on a list of state sponsors of terrorism. In October the US Treasury imposed [JURIST report] sanctions on North Korea due to the country’s human rights abuses.