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Cablegate: Nk Human Rights Prominent in Rokg Action Plan

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUL #1997/01 1860706
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050706Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5321
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2739
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 8121
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2847
RUALSFJ/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA J5 SEOUL KOR PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA J2 SEOUL KOR PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA SCJS SEOUL KOR PRIORITY

UNCLAS SEOUL 001997

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PREF PREL KS KN
SUBJECT: NK HUMAN RIGHTS PROMINENT IN ROKG ACTION PLAN

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SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) The ROKG on May 22 unveiled its five-year National
Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
The 250-page report, which was compiled by the Ministry of
Justice, touched on issues surrounding North Korean defectors
in South Korea and efforts to improve human rights in the
DPRK. While some observers dismiss the Plan as a rhetorical
exercise, others see it as a significant blueprint for future
ROKG administrations. END SUMMARY.

------------------------
THE NATIONAL ACTION PLAN
------------------------

2. (SBU) The ROKG began drafting the 2007-2011 National
Action Plan (NAP) on Human Rights following the April 2001
meeting of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights. The Committee recommended that the ROKG compile the
NAP in compliance with the Vienna Declaration and Programme
of Action," adopted at the 1993 UN World Conference on Human
Rights. While the Ministry of Justice coordinated with
almost thirty ROKG agencies and organizations, the National
Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was charged with drafting the
initial version. According to MOJ Human Rights Policy
Division Director Lee Hyun-joo, the final report was more
expansive on North Korea issues than proposed in the initial
draft. Lee told us on June 28 that the NHRC opposed
including a section on North Korean human rights because it
believed that ROK jurisdiction over human rights ended at the
DMZ. During the course of inter-agency debate, however, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) argued strongly
that the ROKG could no longer remain silent in the
international community. Lee said that the MOJ decided to
adopt the MOFAT recommendation when similar positions were
voiced by experts in two rounds of public hearings.

3. (SBU) The ROKG plans to submit a summary of the NAP to
the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights in Geneva. In addition, MOJ's Human Rights Policy
Division will publish yearly reports evaluating the ROKG's
compliance with the report.

-----------------------
RESETTLEMENT ASSISTANCE
-----------------------

4. (SBU) The NAP highlighted many measures already contained
in the 1997 North Korean Defectors Protection and
Resettlement Support Act. For example, according to the
February 2007 amendment to the Act, North Korean resettlers
would be able to divorce spouses who are still in North
Korea. They would also be entitled to employment subsidies
for an extended period of time and be eligible for additional
vocational training, employment counseling and residential
assistance. According to the Support Act, as highlighted by
the NAP, the ROKG will provide North Korean resettlers with
the incentive to stay in one job by increasing the amount of
employment subsidies as follows: first-year employees will
receive $4,500 rather than $2,000; second-year employees will
receive $5,000 rather than $3,000; and third-year employees
will receive $5,500 rather than $4,000.

5. (SBU) The ROKG will also ease the requirements for
companies that hire North Korean resettlers to be designated
as government priority procurement companies; increase the
expertise of job employment officers; expand employment
opportunities by having regular job fairs.

6. (SBU) In addition, the NAP calls for enhancing
educational programs for North Korean teenagers by developing
a teachers' manual; expanding after-school classes for North
Korean students; and, perhaps, designating an education
officer for North Korean teenagers in concentrated
residential areas. Further, starting from 2007, there will
be regularized human rights education programs for Hanawon
officials. Starting from 2008, there will be human rights
education programs for welfare, employment and residence
protection officers. Overall there will be an expansion of
human rights education programs to other ministries that work
on resettlement programs for North Korean defectors.

--------------------------------------------- ---------------
EXPANDING HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE AND HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION
--------------------------------------------- ---------------

7. (SBU) The Plan reiterates current principles governing
humanitarian cooperation projects. Accordingly, the ROKG
will maintain the position that humanitarian assistance to
the DPRK should continue considering the humanitarian
situation in the North. The ROKG will provide rice and
fertilizer assistance based on the North's implementation of
the February 13 agreement. With respect to NGO humanitarian
assistance projects, the ROKG will respect the freedom of
groups to choose assistance projects, but encourages groups
to focus on vulnerable groups, including women and children.
The government will also expand its support to NGOs from the
Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund in the form of matching funds.

8. (SBU) With regard to human rights, the NAP calls on the
ROKG to increase diplomatic activities at the UN General
Assembly and Human Rights Council. Specifically, it would
promote international interest in North Koreans' right to
life; call for more international humanitarian assistance and
human rights-related technical cooperation projects with the
DPRK; call for dialogue and cooperation between the DPRK and
the international community; and support the activities of
the UN Special Rapporteur for North Korea Human Rights. This
could include supporting bilateral or multilateral
cooperation with the U.S., Japan and European Union on North
Korean human rights; supporting activities of domestic and
international North Korean human rights NGOs; and continuing
efforts to resettle North Korean defectors and resolve the
separated family and POW issues.

9. (SBU) There is a split among the NGO community over the
significance of the NAP. Yoon Yeo-sang, President of
NKDatabase dismissed the document as purely political. "Just
words," he said. Others, such as Citizens' Alliance for
North Korea Human Rights Chairman Benjamin Yoon, saw more
meaning. Yoon said that the report had important symbolic
significance and could form an action plan for future ROK
administrations. He also pointed out that the final version
was more expansive on North Korean human rights than the
version recommended by the National Human Rights Commission.
He said that reflected a growing recognition within
government circles that the ROKG should be more proactive on
human rights.

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COMMENT
-------

10. (SBU) The significance of the NAP is not in the
substance -- the report in fact breaks little new ground in
actual policy on human rights and resettlement assistance.
However, the fact that North Korean human rights was included
at all reflects growing unease within the ROKG over its
historic reticence and will make the Human Rights
Commission's silence -- based on jurisdictional arguments
rejected through the ROKG interagency process -- harder to
maintain.

VERSHBOW

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