US Senate passes bill on N. Korean human rights
The U.S. Senate has passed a bill calling for bipartisan efforts to address North Korea's human rights violations, sending it to President Barack Obama for signature, according to congressional officials.
Shortly before leaving Capitol Hill Thursday night for a five-week summer recess, senators approved the legislation on extending until 2017 the authority of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2014. It is meant to put pressure on Pyongyang on the issues of human rights, democracy, refugee protection and freedom of information.
It is the legal ground for the U.S. government's financial support for radio stations broadcasting to North Korea and the appointment of a special envoy on the North's human rights issues.
The House of Representatives endorsed the legislation in May.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who leads the House Foreign Affairs Committee and who authored the legislation, welcomed the Senate move and reiterated her criticism of Pyongyang.
"A regime that maims its own people with impunity cannot be trusted to keep its agreements with foreigners. Thus, solving the North Korea human rights issue is also a necessary part of addressing the North Korea security threat," she said in a statement Friday.“This new law extends for five years important United States efforts to promote human rights, freedom of information, humanitarian aid transparency, and refugee protection for the people of North Korea."
Ros-Lehtinen emphasized that North Korea's new leader, 20-something Kim Jong-un, should free people held in political prison camps rather than tour amusement parks before state television cameras if he really wants to improve the livelihoods of people in the communist nation. (Yonhap)