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Release of U.S. nationals by North Korea

Release of U.S. nationals by North Korea: A welcome step to further address human rights concerns, says UN expert

GENEVA (10 May 2018) – A United Nations human rights expert has welcomed the release of three US nationals by North Korea, saying the move was “another important building block for the prospects of peace” for the two Koreas and beyond.

“I have consistently advocated for the release of these foreign detainees, who were reportedly under arbitrary detention and prevented from enjoying their basic freedoms,” said Tomás Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). “I welcome this important decision of the DPRK Government, which I hope will offer an opportunity to further address human rights and humanitarian concerns.”

Kim Hak Song, Kim Sang-duk (“Tony Kim”) and Kim Dong-chul were among several foreign nationals arrested in the DPRK in recent years.

Ojea Quintana urged North Korea to release six South Korean nationals, including three pastors, who are still being held in the DPRK. “I remain concerned by reports that the foreign detainees have not received due legal process and may be held in inhumane conditions without consular access,” he said. “Moreover, as peace talks progress, a comprehensive assessment of the overall penitentiary system in North Korea will become unavoidable”, he added.

The Special Rapporteur will visit the Republic of Korea in the first week of July, and will present his next report to the General Assembly in October 2018.


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