A South Korean government representative to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday urged "all countries directly involved" to abide by the principle prohibiting forced repatriation so that North Korean defectors in China are not sent back against their will.
In a keynote speech at a UNHRC meeting in Geneva, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Bong-hyun said, "North Korean defectors are not a matter of political consideration but a humanitarian issue. They are in an unimaginably terrible situation where they are deprived of their basic rights and dignity. If repatriated, they face a seriously life-threatening and inhumane fate, including torture."
Kim did not mention China directly.
He also expressed concerns about human rights abuses in the North, especially in political prison camps. He urged the North to respond to the South Korean Red Cross' proposal to resume reunions of families separated by the Korean War and the North's bizarre abduction campaign. "An increasing number of families of abduction victims, prisoners-of-war and others have died without knowing whether their relatives are still alive," he said.
Kim also mentioned the plight of so-called comfort women, who were pressed into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II. "All countries concerned should take necessary measures including compensation for the victims and punishment of those responsible, as well as trying to protect women during wartime," he said.