The U.S. State Department on Friday called North Korea along with China, Russia, and Iran “morally reprehensible” and labeled them as “forces for instability” due to their poor human rights records.
As a part of its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017, the State Department singled out the four countries as they performed badly in nearly every human rights category.
“The governments of China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, for example, violate the human rights of those within their borders on a daily basis and are forces of instability as a result,” acting Secretary of State John Sullivan said in the report’s global overview.
The report on North Korea paints a bleak picture for human rights in the DPRK, saying that its population regularly face a wide human rights violations.
“The people of North Korea faced egregious human rights violations by the government in nearly all reporting categories,” the report says.
According to the State Department, the violations include “forced and compulsory labor; unfair trials; rigid controls over many aspects of citizen’s lives, including arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, and correspondence, and denial of the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement.”
Throughout its report, the State Department cites evidence from NGO’s, defectors, media reports and North Korea’s own legal constitution, though also notes some of the data is difficult to confirm.
“The United States does not have diplomatic relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the report reads.
“The DPRK does not allow representatives of foreign governments, journalists, or other invited guests the freedom of movement that would enable them to assess fully human rights conditions or confirm reported abuses.”
North Korea is traditionally sensitive of criticism on its human rights record, often calling it a “racket” via its media or at international forums like the UN.
During a press briefing on the report held on Friday, a senior official said Washington hopes to see an improvement in North Korean human rights issues even as it works on the peninsula’s long-standing security problems.
“I don’t think you will see a diminishment in our concern about that issue even as we try to work the nuclear issue,” Michael G. Kozak a Senior Advisor at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor told assembled reporters.
“It’s not a trade-off. I think the President’s laid out a vision there that North Korea can get on a much better path, but it needs to make progress across the board, not just on one issue.”
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