Remarks
Robert R. King
Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues
U.S. Statement at the Interactive Dialogue with Mr. Marzuki Darusman, the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in North Korea
Geneva, Switzerland
March 12, 2012


The United States welcomes Special Rapporteur Darusman’s thoughtful report to the Human Rights Council. We hope the D.P.R.K. will work with Mr. Darusman, and recognize the benefits of cooperating with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and thematic special rapporteurs. The D.P.R.K. could use this opportunity to obtain valuable assistance from international human rights mechanisms. We urge the D.P.R.K. to allow the Special Rapporteur to visit the country and fulfill his mandate to observe and assess the human rights situation.

While human rights conditions in the D.P.R.K. remain deplorable and the people of the D.P.R.K. continue to suffer from widespread human rights violations, we recognize the D.P.R.K.’s willingness to allow me, the U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, to visit the country this past May as part of a food assessment delegation.

We also appreciate the human rights discussions that have taken place during other meetings I have held. We remain committed to building upon this foundation, which we hope serves as a first step towards dialogue on human rights.

We would like to highlight a few points in the Special Rapporteur’s report. First, the Special Rapporteur notes the lack of due process in the D.P.R.K. We seek his views on how the D.P.R.K. can develop a more transparent and impartial judicial system. The United States would be happy to work with the Special Rapporteur and the D.P.R.K. to develop programs on rule of law issues.

We share the Special Rapporteur’s concerns about forced and compulsory labor and would welcome additional recommendations on how the DPRK could improve labor conditions for North Korean workers.

We appreciate the Special Rapporteur’s concern about the abducted nationals from the Republic of Korea, Japan, and other countries, and his appeal to the DPRK to resolve this issue urgently.

We share the Special Rapporteur’s specific concerns about the case of Oh Kil-nam and his wife, Shin Suk-ja and daughters, Oh Hae-won and Oh Kyu-won, whose whereabouts remain unknown. We reiterate his request that this family be reunited promptly.

We share the Special Rapporteur’s assessment of the importance of resuming inter-Korean dialogue and would welcome another round of inter-Korean family reunions. We appreciate the modest progress between DPRK officials and the American Red Cross on family reunions between Korean-Americans and family members in the DPRK, but we seek greater progress in this area.

Finally, we share the Special Rapporteur’s deep concerns about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers from the DPRK. We urge the DPRK to end the punishment and imprisonment of North Koreans who have sought asylum abroad as well as their family members.

The United States strongly supports the excellent work of the Special Rapporteur and urges the international community to continue to highlight the significant human rights concerns inside the DPRK by supporting the renewal of this important mandate.

Thank you, Madame President.