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U.N. rapporteur urges N.K. to punish those responsible for killing of S. Korean citizen at sea

All News 16:14 October 15, 2020

By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, Oct. 15 (Yonhap) -- The U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea's human rights situation has urged Pyongyang to punish those responsible for the killing of a South Korean fisheries official, compensate the official's family and ensure no such incident happens again.

Tomas Ojea Quintana made the appeal, denouncing the killing as a "violation of international human rights law" in his latest report on the North's human rights situation. The document was released by the U.N. human rights office in Seoul, and Quintana plans to present it to the U.N. General Assembly next week.

"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea must ... hold those responsible to account, compensate the family of the official and ensure such events are not repeated," he said in the report, referring to North Korea by its official name.

"The incident seems to entail an unlawful and arbitrary killing of a civilian who was not exhibiting any imminent threat to the life of the security guards, which is in violation of international human rights law."

The 47-year-old official was fatally shot by the North Korean military on Sept. 22 while adrift in North Korean waters. Lee Rae-jin, the brother of the deceased official, has filed a request for a U.N. probe, raising strong doubts about the interim result of a government probe that his brother attempted to defect to the North.

The North has apologized but has given no response to Seoul's calls for a joint probe.

In the report, the rapporteur also called for the two Koreas to disclose all information about the case.

The Seoul office of the U.N. human rights interviewed Lee early this week to gather information for its own analysis on the case. The office has also called on Seoul and Pyongyang to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the incident in line with international human rights law.

Meanwhile, Quintana also called for the international community to urgently re-evaluate the sanctions regime against Pyongyang, citing the devastating impact on its trade and food security due to the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak.

Although Pyongyang claims to have no single case of COVID-19, its all-out anti-virus efforts made known so far, including the border closure with China, indicate its economic hardship, which is believed to have further exacerbated after recent typhoons, he said.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, speaks during a news conference in Seoul on June 21, 2019, wrapping up a five-day trip to Seoul to gather information for a report that he was to submit to the U.N. General Assembly in October. (Yonhap)


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