Stop forcible return of asylum seekers from North Korea

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woman at a demonstration for North Korean refugees

A United Nations human rights expert is calling for an end to forcible repatriation of asylum seekers escaping human rights abuses in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

Marzuki Darusman, the UN expert on Human rights in the DPRK is urging neighbouring countries to uphold the principle of providing international protection and avoid forcible repatriation of would be asylum seekers.

In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, Mr Darusman said the number of North Koreans seeking refuge in South Korea was growing and reached 23,700 by the end of 2011.

He said most of the asylum seekers had undergone harsh punishment in forced labour camps, or have been victims of torture and other forms of ill treatment.

Mr Darusman said the leadership in DPRK had not made any significant efforts to improve the country’s human rights situation.

"I believe that there has been a significant deterioration in the human rights situation in the country. I do hope that the new leadership in the DPRK will use the recent succession as an opportunity to engage with the international community and to secure global confidence. I believe that the current transition may be a window of opportunity for the country to adopt a reform process and address all questions and concerns in relation to human rights, which will be welcomed from all quarters. I welcome the recent progress made on nuclear issues, which has been accompanied by an increased flow of food aid into the country."

In response, the head of the DPRK delegation Ambassador SO Se Pyong reiterated his country's non-cooperation with the mandate of the human rights expert, adding that his report was a political ploy full of unfounded and irrational allegations fabricated and spread by hostile forces.

Duration: 38″

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