CNA Staff, Jul 9, 2020 / 12:15 pm
A federal commission is calling on the U.S. to push for greater respect for human rights in North Korea, in exchange for a freeze on their nuclear program and not full denuclearization.
In a new report released on Wednesday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) advocates that the U.S. take a new approach to working for the denuclearization of North Korea and a peace agreement.
While the U.S. has viewed human rights advocacy as a potential obstacle to denuclearization talks, pushing it to the side, it should instead view “security and human rights objectives as complementary rather than contradictory,” USCIRF says.
A new policy based on the 1975 Helsinki Accords would link human rights to discussions on freezing North Korea’s nuclear program, and not dismantling it entirely, USCIRF says.
USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan, federal religious freedom commission that advises the administration on international religious freedom issues.
North Korea has one of the worst records in the world on respect for human rights and freedom of religion, USCIRF says. In its 2020 annual report, the commission noted that religious practice—outside of state-sanctioned houses of worship—can lead to arrest, torture, imprisonment, and execution.
In a 2014 report of a UN Commission of Inquiry, an estimated 80,000-120,000 prisoners of conscience were detained in prison camps. Detainees are subject to hard labor, malnutrition, and other bad conditions.
The Trump administration has spoken out about the human rights crisis in North Korea, but has not taken enough actions on it, USCIRF says.