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Britain says no sign of improvement in N.K. human rights situation in 2018

All Headlines 10:26 June 07, 2019

SEOUL, June 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's human rights situation showed "no visible improvement" last year despite its active diplomatic engagement, the British government has said in an annual report, criticizing Pyongyang for using reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War as a "political tool."

In the Human Rights and Democracy: 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office report released Wednesday, the British government also vowed to continue efforts to raise the issue of human rights with North Korea.

"2018 saw memorable steps forward in inter-Korean rapprochement, including the reunion of separated families. Unfortunately, the DPRK regime continued to use family reunions as a political tool, with the welfare of the affected families a minor consideration," it said, referring to the North by the acronym for its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The separated families issue is one of the most pressing humanitarian matters for the Koreas as more aging Koreans have died without a chance to meet their kin across the border.

Since the first-ever summit of their leaders in 2000, the Koreas have held 21 rounds of face-to-face family reunion events, including the most recent one last August.

The two sides had also been pushing to hold video reunions of the separated families, but related preparations have shown little progress amid a deadlock in denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

"In 2019 ... we will urge the regime to cooperate fully with relevant U.N. human rights mandate holders, and allow them immediate and unhindered access to assess directly the human rights situation in the country," the report said.

North Korea has long been labeled one of the world's worst human rights violators. The communist regime does not tolerate dissent, holds hundreds of thousands of people in political prison camps and tightly controls the flow of outside information.

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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