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North Korea: Political Prisoners

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with his North Korean counterpart on prisoners being held in prison camps for their (a) political and (b) religious beliefs. (155975)

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers and officials raise human rights issues—including arbitrary detention of prisoners for political and/or religious reasons—with members of the North Korean government at every reasonable opportunity. We do so through our embassy in Pyongyang and through contact with the North Korean embassy in London, as well as through the EU and UN.

We and EU partners have also been instrumental in creating—and retaining—the position of UN Special Rapporteur on Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) human rights, and have sponsored a number of UN resolutions calling on the North Korean government to honour its UN commitments on human rights. The UN has also lobbied the government on specific individuals' cases.

The Government will continue to press the North Korean authorities on human rights abuses at every opportunity, urging them in particular to cooperate with UN mechanisms and to allow international monitors access to the country to verify or disprove reports of human rights abuses. It is deeply frustrating that the DPRK government has not responded to these requests.