‘Critical test’ for North Korea as civilian suffering remains rife, warns UN rights expert

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Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea, speaks during a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Quintana says negotiations on North Korea's denuclearization must also include its abysmal human rights situation. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea, urged the North Korean authorities to engage with his mandate and allow him to visit the country “to hear the voice of the people and the authorities”.

PTI

The human rights situation in North Korea remains “extremely serious”, and along with international demands for denuclearisation, this constitutes a “a critical test” for the year ahead, a senior UN-appointed expert said.

Tomas Quintana was speaking Friday in his capacity as UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea during a press conference in the South Korean capital, Seoul, as he continued to be denied access to its northern neighbour.

“Of those who left the North recently that I interviewed during this mission, every person gave accounts of ordinary people being subjected to exploitative labour and serious human rights violations such as forced evictions in the name of development,” he said.

“Stories were told to me of people, including children, being subjected to long hours of labour where they were forced to work without remuneration…. One person concluded: “the whole country is a prison.”