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North Korea / Human rights: UN Expert in fact-finding mission to Seoul

Korean version

GENEVA / SEOUL (14 July 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Tomás OJEA QUINTANA, will visit Seoul from 17 to 21 July.

Since his appointment by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016, the Special Rapporteur has not been granted access to the DPRK, despite the requests made. As part of his efforts to gather information on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, Mr. OJEA QUINTANA has previously visited Japan and the Republic of Korea, in November 2016.

“With the new administration in the Republic of Korea now in place, the purpose of my mission is to hear from them about the new policies vis-à-vis the DPRK, and to collect first-hand information on human rights from various sources, including people who have recently left the country,” said the independent expert.

“My visit comes in the context of intensified hostilities in the region and with that, increased international scrutiny, including from the UN Security Council,” the expert added.

“Human rights are obviously under threat as tension rises and efforts to promote dialogue must address human rights concerns. It is part of my mandate to remind Governments of this important principle,” he underscored.

During the five-day mission, the Special Rapporteur is expected to meet with senior members of the Government as well as the representatives of the civil society and other stakeholders.

Mr. OJEA QUINTANA will hold a press conference on 21 July, from 14:00-15:00 (local time) in Seoul. Further details to be announced locally. Access to the press conferences is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will report his findings and recommendations to the General Assembly in October 2017.

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 English, Tarek Cheniti (+82 2 725 3522 / tcheniti@ohchr.org) or in Korean, YounKyo Ahn (+82 2 725 3523 / yahn@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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