Biden appoints special envoy on North Korean human rights | Human Rights News

Veteran Korean-speaking diplomat Julie Turner will take up the position, which has been vacant since 2017.

US President Joe Biden has appointed a special envoy for human rights in North Korea, a position that was vacated during the presidency of his predecessor Donald Trump.

Biden has nominated Julie Turner, a professional Korean-speaking diplomat who currently heads the Asia division of the State Department’s human rights office, the White House said in a statement Monday.

Turner previously worked on human rights in North Korea as a special assistant in the special envoy’s office, the statement added.

The appointment needs Senate confirmation, but little opposition is expected.

The ambassadorial position was authorized by Congress under a 2004 law aimed at drawing attention not only to security but also to rights concerns in North Korea, one of the world’s most repressive nations. gender.

The position has been vacant since January 2017, when the special envoy under Barack Obama, Robert King, resigned during the presidential transition.

Trump’s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, sought to remove the post as part of a corporate-style restructuring.

His successor, Mike Pompeo, did not take the position as Trump pursued diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with three summits made little lasting impact.

Some activists say that when the United States tries to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table over its banned nuclear weapons program, human rights have been pushed aside.

Biden has promised several times since taking office in 2021 that human rights will be at the heart of his foreign policy, but has not appointed anyone to the position.

North Korea has repeatedly denied accusations of human rights abuses and blames sanctions imposed in 2006 over its missile program for the dire humanitarian situation in the country. . It accused Washington and Seoul of using the issue as a political tool to smear its reputation.

One landmark UN report 2014 North Korea’s human rights policy has concluded that the heads of North Korea’s security services — and possibly leader Kim Jong Un himself — face justice for overseeing a system run by State control includes Nazi-style atrocities that are causing fury in Pyongyang.

Since then, North Korea curbing coronavirus has exacerbated human rights abuses according to United Nations investigators, citing additional restrictions on access to information, tighter border security and increased digital surveillance.

The US State Department in its latest global report on human rights wrote about widespread abuses in North Korea, including strict bans on any form of dissent. , public execution and mass prisons where prisoners were forced to work and starve.

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