North Korea: Human Rights

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 19th April 2017.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of reports of human rights violations committed by the government of North Korea against its exiled citizens, and of some exiled North Koreans having become UK citizens, what is their response to the recommendation by the UNHCR group of independent experts on accountability in their report to the 34th session published on 24 February that UN Member States "enact legislation with extraterritorial effect for gross violations of human rights and, for those States that recognize the principle of universal jurisdiction, consider how they can contribute to securing accountability for human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea"; and whether they intend to enact such legislation.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

We welcome the UN Group of Independent Experts Report which is an important milestone in the process of developing a viable framework for accountability for those who commit human rights violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). At the UN Human Rights Council in March, the UK strongly supported a new resolution on DPRK human rights which drew on the recommendations in the report. The adoption of the resolution demonstrated that there is broad consensus among the international community on strengthening the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Seoul. This provides OHCHR with additional resources to gather and evaluate evidence and consult legal professionals about how this evidence could be used in any future internationally agreed framework for accountability. Legislation already exists in the UK which covers extraterritoriality. War crimes under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957, and a small number of other grave offences, including torture, are already subject to universal jurisdiction.

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