UN’s North Korean human rights official to visit Seoul next week

Tomas Ojéa Quintana will work with several South Korean organizations to compile data on conditions in the North
By Yongjae Mok and Jeong Eun Lee
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UN’s North Korean human rights official to visit Seoul next week UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea, Tomás Ojea Quintana attends a press conference after delivering his report before the Human Rights Council, on March 9, 2020 in Geneva.

A U.N. official will return to South Korea for the seventh time next week to collect data on right abuses north of the 38th parallel in preparation for an annual report.

Special Rapporteur on North Korean Human Rights Tomás Ojéa Quintana will be in South Korea from Feb. 15-23, the U.N. Human Rights Office told RFA’s Korean Service.

“The South Korean government has been continuously cooperating with special procedures, including the special rapporteur on North Korean human rights,” the ministry said.

South Korea’s Ministry of Unification told RFA that it was finalizing with Quintana a specific itinerary for the visit.

Quintana plans to meet with several North Korean human rights-related private organizations and individual refugees and is expected to discuss his findings in a press conference at the end of his visit.

“There are likely to be talks about the situation of North Korean refugees in China and changes in Chinese policy toward North Korean refugees,” an activist scheduled to meet with Quintana told RFA.

Once lenient toward North Korean refugees, Chinese authorities have begun taking a harder stance, with thousands reported to be in detention awaiting deportation.

Quintana will also meet with the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, a private research organization.

Quintana last visited South Korea in June 2019 before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, he has expressed his concerns about the South Korean government’s handling of the shooting of a South Korean fisheries official. The official’s family sued the government for not fully disclosing information about the incident. A court ordered the government to share the details of their investigation.

Quintana has also demanded explanations from the South Korean government on why it audited North Korean rights advocacy groups in the country. He has criticized the government for prohibiting rights groups from launching balloons with anti-regime leaflets into North Korea.

Translated by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.


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