Date: December 16, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today expresses disappointment that the United Nations Security Council did not hold a special meeting specifically to address North Korea’s human rights and religious freedom record on International Human Rights Day (December 10) this year. Between 2014-2017, the Security Council had held special meetings on Human Rights Day focused on North Korea. On December 11, the Security Council did hold a meeting focused on North Korea’s missile tests and nuclear program.
“North Korea is one of the darkest countries in the world for religious freedom,” said USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer. “Tens of thousands of Christians and other religious followers have been arrested, tortured, sent to labor camps, or even executed simply for expressing their faith.”
“USCIRF certainly appreciates the Trump administration’s efforts to address the security situation on the Korean peninsula, but such efforts should not come at the expense of focusing on religious freedom,” added USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin. “We urge the administration to support putting North Korea’s human rights and religious freedom record on the Security Council agenda in 2020.”
In its 2019 Annual Report, USCIRF called upon the administration to incorporate human rights and religious freedom into ongoing negotiations with North Korea and to fill the current vacancy for the Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues. In a 2018 Policy Update, USCIRF also urged the North Korean government to permit international human rights monitors unfettered access the country.