All North Korean workers currently employed in Russia will be returned to the DPRK by the end of the year as required by UN sanctions, the country’s Minister for Labor and Social Protection Maxim Topilin told local press this week.
The comments come just over a year since the passage of UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2397, which decided that member states would be required to expatriate all North Korean workers no later than 24 months from the date of its adoption.
“As for workers from North Korea, who must return by the end of 2019 in accordance with the UN documents, the Russian Federation, of course, will fulfill all international obligations,” Topilin said, in comments carried by the Russian state-run outlet Sputnik.
Resolution 2397 also ruled that member states must provide a midterm report by late March 2019 detailing “all DPRK nationals earning income in that Member State’s jurisdiction that were repatriated over the 12 month period starting from the date of adoption of this resolution.”
Countries must also provide an explanation if fewer than half of the North Korean workers in their territory were expatriated in the first 12 months since December 22, 2017, it adds.
Final reports are also due 27 months after the adoption of the resolution, which would fall in March 2020.
Estimates on the number of North Korean laborers in Russia have varied over time, with official statistics published in October last year reporting a total of 13,100 workers left in the country compared to the 23,000 reported to be working in October 2017.
These official statistics, however, appear to stand in contrast to various figures offered by Russian officials, however.
This includes President Vladimir Putin who, in October 2017, said there were as many as 40,000 North Koreans working in the country at that time.
Russia’s compliance with UNSC resolutions, specifically as they relate to DPRK laborers, has also been called into question in the past.
In 2018, the Center for Advanced Studies (C4ADS) published a report that suggested Moscow had granted new permits for North Korean workers in 2017 and 2018 — a violation of Resolution 2375.
“In July 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly ordered the Russian Ministry of Labor to extend labor permits for 3,200 DPRK nationals through December 22, 2019,” that report read.
While Russia denied any new permits had been issued, following the publication of the C4ADS report, U.S. officials — including the then Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley — accused Russia of violating sanctions.
“Credible reports of Russia violating UN Security Council resolutions on North Korean laborers working abroad are deeply troubling,” Haley said at the UN in August.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Comrade Anatolii, Flickr, Creative Commons
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