U.K. Lawmakers Urge Nat'l Assembly to Pass N.Korea Rights Bill

      July 26, 2011 13:52

      Some 20 members of the U.K. Parliament wrote to the leaders of four main political parties in South Korea on July 20 urging them to enact the North Korean Human Rights Act. They are members of the North Korea All-Party Parliamentary Group, and the letter, which is addressed to the leaders of the ruling Grand National Party, and opposition Democratic, Liberty Forward, and Democratic Labor parties, is due to arrive this week.

      They said improving the human rights situation in North Korea is in the interest of South Korea and the international society and expressed hope that the lawmakers will support the North Korean Human Rights Act. "The North Korean human rights bill is aimed at establishing a systematic framework to improve the rights situation in the North," the letter said, and praised some specific provisions.

      The members of the group have worked together on issues involving North Korea. It is not a committee but an officially registered group in the British Parliament. It was signed by members of both houses including group chair Lord David Alton of Liverpool, a crossbencher, and vice-chair Jim Dobbin, a Labour Party MP from Heywood and Middleton.

      A meeting between the group members and Ha Tae-kyoung of Open Radio for North Korea, who was visiting London last month, provided the momentum. "At the time, eight members of the North Korea All-Party Parliamentary Group asked me what they can do for us, so I asked them to help us ratify the North Korean Human Rights Act in South Korea," Ha said.

      The bill was first proposed in 2005, but has been stuck in the National Assembly for six years as both ruling and opposition parties delayed the process.

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