Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Royce Introduces Resolution on North Korea Refugees:Measure Calls on China to Halt Forced Repatriations

Washington, Oct 15 - Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA-40) introduced legislation focused on China's forced repatriation of North Korean refugees, calling on Beijing to halt the practice. Royce is a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and member of the Subcommittee on Asia. He recently returned from a trip to Seoul where this issue was raised with members of the South Korean National Assembly and others. Joining Royce in introducing the resolution is Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA-33), Chair of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Interparliamentary Exchange."Given the horrendous conditions in North Korea, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have fled to northeastern China. Yet despite its international obligations, China forcibly repatriates North Korean refugees to North Korea, where they face brutal imprisonment in concentration camps or even death," said Royce upon the resolution's introduction. "This resolution sends a strong message to Beijing: this practice must stop."Specifically, the resolution calls on China to honor its obligations under the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol by: halting the forced repatriation of North Korean refugees; terminating the practice of automatically classifying all North Korean border crossers as illegal economic migrants; and granting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees unfettered access to such refugees. "This situation is not new. Unfortunately, it has been going on for a number of years, and now numerous reports indicate that the practice has been stepped-up over the past year or so," said Royce.The plight of North Korean refugees was discussed during Rep. Royce's recent visit to Seoul as the Vice-Chair of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Interparliamentary Exchange. The issue was also a primary topic at the International Parliamentarians Coalition for North Korean Refugees' Human Rights meeting in Seoul on August 29, 2007, of which Royce participated. "This coalition of parliamentarians from across the globe called for efforts to protect North Korean refugees to be increased. Significantly, the Korean-American community has answered that call, working tirelessly to bring awareness to the plight of the hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees living a life of fear in China," said Royce.Last week, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, of which Royce is a member, released its 2007 Annual Report (http://www.cecc.gov/). The Commission recommended similar actions as that proposed in Royce's resolution. The unique Commission, consisting of Members of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Administration was created in 2000 to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China.
As in the days of Noah....

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