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South Korea violated the rights of deported North Korean fishermen: UN investigator

SEOUL: South Korea’s 2019 choice to deport with out authorized course of two North Korean fishermen suspected of murdering their shipmates violated human rights ideas, a UN investigator mentioned on Wednesday (Jun 29), after prosecutors reopened the case.

South Korean activists had referred to as on new President Yoon Suk-yeol to reinvestigate the case, blaming the earlier authorities of making an attempt to curry favour with Pyongyang amid denuclearisation negotiations and efforts at rapprochement.

Whereas the destiny of the 2 males is unconfirmed, there was an expectation their rights can be violated after they have been turned over to North Korean authorities, and subsequently Seoul had an obligation to course of them within the South Korean justice system reasonably than instantly repatriate them, Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN particular rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, instructed reporters.

“These are extraordinarily dramatic circumstances as a result of as soon as an individual is repatriated there isn’t any reversal,” he mentioned. “The (South Korean) authorities mustn’t have repatriated these individuals immediately.”

Former president Moon Jae-in’s administration deported the fishermen, describing them as “harmful criminals” who killed 16 different colleagues aboard their vessel whereas crossing the ocean border and mentioned they might trigger hurt in the event that they have been accepted into South Korean society.

North Korea faces accusations of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests, sexual violence and compelled labour. It has denied mistreating its residents.

South Korean prosecutors have reopened the case, Unification Minister Kwon Younger-se, who handles relations with the North, instructed Reuters on Monday.

An official with the ministry mentioned on Wednesday it might cooperate with the investigation.

Neither Moon, who has saved out of the general public eye since leaving workplace, or North Korea has commented on the case.

Quintana was amongst a number of UN officers who despatched a letter to Seoul on the time expressing concern and asking for extra data. The officers additionally despatched a letter to Pyongyang.

Throughout this week’s go to to Seoul, Quintana additionally met with the household of a South Korean who went lacking at sea in September 2020 whereas working as a fishing inspector. North Korean authorities later shot him useless and set his physique on fireplace, surprising many South Koreans and growing cross-border rigidity.

That case has additionally been revisited by the Yoon administration, and final week South Korea’s maritime and navy authorities reversed their earlier bulletins and mentioned there have been no indicators the official was making an attempt to defect.

His household had refuted the defection claims, submitting a lawsuit calling for the disclosure of presidency data.

Quintana mentioned he supported the household’s proper to know extra from the South Korean authorities, including that in the end, North Korea was answerable for killing the official, and must also disclose data, punish those that shot him, and supply reparations to the household.

North Korean chief Kim Jong Un beforehand made a uncommon apology for the killing, calling it an “sudden and disgraceful occasion”, although state media mentioned blame lay with South Korea for not controlling its borders.

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