The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday passed the ‘Ambassador James R. Lilley and Congressman Stephen J. Solarz North Korea Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2012’, which is intended to extend the U.S.' existing North Korea human rights legislation for five years to 2017.
The reauthorization measure was passed unanimously in the first five minutes of a committee meeting on Capitol Hill chaired by Congresswoman Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R).
“Although the transition to the leadership of Kim Jong Eun after the death of Kim Jong Il has introduced new uncertainties and possibilities, the fundamental human rights and humanitarian conditions inside North Korea remain deplorable, North Korean refugees remain acutely vulnerable, and the findings in the 2004 Act and 2008 Reauthorization remain substantially accurate today,” it notes.
Continuing, “Media and nongovernmental organizations have reported a crackdown on unauthorized border crossing during the North Korean leadership transition, including authorization for on-the-spot execution of attempted defectors, as well as an increase in punishments during the 100-day official mourning period after the death of Kim Jong Il.”
The legislation also takes note of China’s forced repatriation of North Korean defectors, pointing out that “Notwithstanding high-level advocacy by the United States, the Republic of Korea, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, China has continued to forcibly repatriate North Koreans, including dozens of presumed refugees who were the subject of international humanitarian appeals during February and March of 2012.”
Meanwhile, the text of the act also notes that the U.S. resettled a total of just 23 North Korean defectors during 2011, and has resettled 128 since the passing of the original bill in 2004.
The original act passed into law in October of that year, before being extended by four years in 2008.