By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, May 16 (Yonhap) -- Two U.S. senators have introduced a bill to reauthorize the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 that requires U.S. assistance and efforts to help improve humanitarian conditions in North Korea, the lawmakers said Monday.
The so-called North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2022 was submitted last week by senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).
"As Pyongyang continues to disregard the dignity of its citizens and demonstrates no tolerance for human rights, I'm proud to introduce legislation to reauthorize the North Korean Human Rights Act," Rubio said, according to a press release posted on his website.
"As a beacon for democracy, the United States must do all we can to support the cause of human rights and assist those fleeing Kim's regime," he added, referring to North Korea's Kim Jong-un regime.
The bill, if passed, would reauthorize the 2004 North Korean human rights act, which is set to expire in September, for five years.
Rubio successfully led efforts to reauthorize the North Korean human rights act in 2018, according to his office.
If passed, the reauthorization act would "reauthorize humanitarian assistance, democracy programs and broadcasting until 2027," it said.
It would also "modify the North Korean Sanctions and Policy Act of 2016 to impose sanctions on Chinese and Russian officials responsible for forcibly repatriating North Koreans back to North Korea," it added.
The U.S. administration has been required under the 2004 act to appoint a special envoy for North Korean human rights, but the position has been vacant since 2017.
Rubio's office said the reauthorization act, if passed, would "require a report from the administration, within 180 days, on progress towards appointing a Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights."
A similar bill to reauthorize the 2004 act was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier in the year by Rep. Young Kim (R-CA).
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