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North Korea

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his assessment of the extent of religious persecution in North Korea; what measures the Department has been able to initiate to indicate the concerns of Her Majesty's Government to the Government of North Korea; and what initiatives it has taken on behalf of named individuals persecuted. [118889]

We are concerned about the reports of serious human rights violations, including religious persecution, in North Korea. But the lack of access for independent monitors makes it difficult for the international community to verify these reports. Our establishment of diplomatic relations and an Embassy in North Korea enable us to use official channels to raise human rights issues, including religious persecution, at regular intervals.

The UK also supports EU efforts in this area. The EU has been monitoring the situation closely, and took the decision to table a resolution at this year's UN Commission on Human Rights. The resolution, which was adopted by a wide margin on 16 April, urges North Korea to co-operate with the UN human rights mechanisms. We hope that such pressure will bring about a positive change in North Korea with respect to religious tolerance and the observance of human rights.