N. Korean human rights envoy nominee says human rights violations pose threat to int'l security
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, May 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's disregard for the basic rights of its own people directly affects international security, the nominee for U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights insisted Wednesday.
Julie Turner said she, if appointed, will work not only to promote North Korean human rights but also to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses in the reclusive North.
"The human rights situation in the DPRK is one of the most protracted human rights crises in the world," Turner said in her opening remarks before the Senate foreign relations committee confirmation hearing.
"As the DPRK's human rights record has deteriorated, the connection between its widespread violations and abuses and the threat it poses to international security are clear," she added.
DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.
Turner noted Pyongyang exports "thousands of North Koreans" overseas only to exploit their wages that are in turn funneled into the country's illegal weapons programs.
"The regime's human rights violations and abuses are inextricably linked to its weapons programs, which are funded through the exploitation and abuse of the North Korean people," she said.
She added, "The people of North Korea have suffered far too long under these abusive policies."
The nominee said she will focus on five key areas if confirmed.
"First, I will work with partners and allies, including the ROK, to reenergize international efforts to promote human rights and increase access to uncensored information in the DPRK," she said, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.
"Second, I will seek to reinvigorate accountability efforts at the UN," she added.
The other areas of focus will be undertaking efforts to urge the DPRK to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, protection of North Korean refugees and working with the Korean American community to identify separated families with family members in North Korea and advocating for family reunions, she added.
Turner currently serves as the director of East Asia and the Pacific at the state department.
She was nominated by President Joe Biden in January.
If appointed, she will be the first U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights since early 2017.
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