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Unification Ministry launches task force to prepare for N.K. human rights foundation

All Headlines 11:47 March 14, 2016

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- The Unification Ministry launched a task force to prepare for the establishment of a foundation that will enforce the recently passed North Korea human rights act, officials said Monday.

The task force will make administrative preparations, such as securing personnel and a budget, for the foundation, which is to be launched as soon as the enforcement of the act begins in September, they said.

The Unification Ministry will assign four of its personnel to run the task force.

The foundation, subordinate to the ministry, will be charged with conducting research on the communist state's human rights situation and humanitarian assistance, and help formulate related government policies and programs to support civic activities.

The government plans to set aside an annual budget of some 20 billion won (US$16.8 million) for the foundation.

Once launched, the foundation is expected to become a crucial framework to boost cooperation between the civil and public sectors in enhancing the North's woeful human rights conditions, officials said.

The foundation will run programs to strengthen the capabilities of dozens of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) dedicated to stopping the North's human rights abuses. It will also hold academic seminars involving NGOs and help strengthen their networks.

On March 2, South Korea's National Assembly approved the bill on North Korean human rights. The passage came after 11 years of partisan wrangling. Conservatives have been in favor of the bill, while liberals opposed it, claiming it would further strain ties with Pyongyang.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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