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U.N. human rights office in touch with S. Korea over deportation of N. Koreans

All News 16:46 November 15, 2019

By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday it is in touch with South Korea's government to understand what human rights conditions were considered before last week's deportation of two North Korean fishermen accused of killing 16 fellow crew members.

The office said the inquiry does not represent an investigation, however.

"OHCHR is not investigating the case. OHCHR is in touch with the Government of the Republic of Korea regarding the circumstances of the return of two North Korean citizens to the DPRK on 7 November and to understand what human rights considerations were taken into account prior to deportation," the OHCHR's Seoul office said in an emailed comment.

DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

South Korea deported two North Korean men after capturing them near the eastern inter-Korean sea border on Nov. 7. A three-day investigation found that they had fled from authorities after killing 16 fellow crew members on their fishing boat.

The deportation, however, has prompted criticism from some human rights groups that Seoul hurriedly handed them over to the North and put them at risk of harsh punishment back home.

South Korea has rejected criticism of alleged human rights violations, saying the decision was made in consideration of the safety of its own citizens.

The Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported earlier in the day that the U.N. special rapporteur for North Korea's human rights, Tomas Ojea Quintana, plans to visit South Korea at the end of this month to look into the circumstances of the deportation.

The OHCHR said that Quintana is planning to visit the South "at the end of this year as a part of his regular country visit" and not specifically over the deportation case.

The North Korean fishing boat that had been in South Korean custody after two of its crew members were captured is being towed in the East Sea to be handed over to the North side on Nov. 8, 2019. Seoul also expelled the crew members. (Yonhap)


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