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U.S. calls out N. Korea's 'significant' human rights issues

All News 23:34 March 11, 2020

By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, March 11 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. State Department called out North Korea on Wednesday for "significant" human rights issues ranging from arbitrary killings to torture and severe restrictions on religious freedom.

In the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the department described North Korea as an authoritarian state led by the Kim family since 1949, where the authorities maintain "effective control" over the security forces.

A long list of "significant human rights issues" cites unlawful or arbitrary killings, forced disappearances by the government, torture by authorities and arbitrary detentions by security forces.

This AFP file photo shows the U.S. Department of State in Washington. (Yonhap)

It continues to say that prison conditions are harsh and life-threatening, including in political prison camps, judicial independence is lacking, and restrictions are in place on free expression, freedom of association, religious freedom, freedom of movement and political participation.

"The government took no credible steps to prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses," the 2019 report says, pointing also to widespread corruption, coerced abortion, trafficking in persons, the use of forced or compulsory child labor, as well as the imposition of forced labor conditions on North Korean workers overseas.

"As of year's end, the government still had not accounted for the circumstances that led to the death of Otto Warmbier, who had been held in unjust and unwarranted detention by the authorities, and who died soon after his release in 2017," the report states, referring to the American college student who was detained by the regime for allegedly trying to steal a political poster during a vist to Pyongyang.

Two years ago, the department labeled North Korea a "force of instability" along with China, Russia and Iran, and accused the regime of "egregious" human rights abuses.

A year later, in the 2018 report, the department removed the word "egregious" and made no mention of the regime in the preface, where it had previously been called a force of instability.

hague@yna.co.kr
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