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UN's North Korea human rights expert makes official visit to region

GENEVA (6 December 2017) – The UN's specialist on human rights in North Korea will visit South Korea and Japan from 11 to 16 December 2017, in the context of heightened tensions in North-East Asia.

“I will use this mission to gather information on the latest developments in the human rights situation in North Korea and identify issues of concern that should be brought to the attention of the Human Rights Council,” said Tomás Ojea Quintana, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The DPRK itself has not granted access to the Special Rapporteur since the mandate was created in 2004, but has recently opened up to dialogue with other UN mechanisms in areas such as the situation of women, children and people with disabilities.

Urging these openings to be used as an opportunity to promote concrete changes in policy, Mr Ojea Quintana said: “This is a country that has long been closed to any conversation on human rights, so these interactions with the international community should be encouraged as they help improve the living conditions of the population. They should also help improve the DPRK’s strained relations with its neighbours, who may be losing patience with the Government.”

Tensions in North-East Asia have increased after North Korea conducted numerous missile launches in 2017, and carried out what it said was a hydrogen bomb test in September. Resolutions by the UN General Assembly and Security Council strongly condemned these tests, and international sanctions against the DPRK were strengthened.

Mr. Ojea Quintana will spend 11-14 December in the Republic of Korea before moving on to Japan on 15-16 December.

He will hold a press conference on 14 December at 14:30 local time at the Korea Press Centre in Seoul. Access is strictly limited to journalists.

He will present his next report to the Human Rights Council in March 2018.

ENDS

Mr. Tomás OJEA QUINTANA (Argentina) was designated as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016. Mr. Ojea Quintana, a lawyer with more than 20 years of experience in human rights, worked for the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, and represented the Argentinian NGO ‘Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo’ in cases concerning child abduction during the military regime. He is a former Head of OHCHR human rights programme in Bolivia, and served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar from 2008 to 2014.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – DPRK:

OHCHR Seoul Office:

For additional information and media requests, please contact:

In Seoul: in English, Tarek Cheniti (+82 10 5927 8724/ tcheniti@ohchr.org); in Korean, YounKyo Ahn (+82 10 6607 3595 / yahn@ohchr.org)

In Geneva/Tokyo: Olga Nakajo in English/Japanese (onakajo@ohchr.org, +41 79 444 4332 during the visit; +41 22 928 9348 before/after the visit)
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Bryan Wilson – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org)

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