The U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea's human rights situation urged Russia Friday against implementing an extradition treaty with North Korea, saying it could lead to the forced repatriation of North Korean workers in Russia.
Marzuki Darusman expressed alarm at the deal signed earlier this month, noting it calls for "transferring and readmitting individuals 'who have illegally' left their country and stay 'illegally' in another's territory."
About 10,000 North Koreans are estimated to be working in Russia, mostly in the far eastern region. Some of them stay there after their contracts end in order to seek asylum.
"Given the practice of the DPRK to send laborers to Russia who often work in slave-like conditions, it is feared that such a treaty could also be used to capture and repatriate workers who attempt to seek asylum," Darusman said in a statement released through the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"I strongly urge Russia to respect the principle of non-refoulement and not to implement the treaty," he said.
North Koreans forcibly repatriated to their homeland are often subjected to torture, arbitrary detention, summary execution, forced abortions and other sexual violence, the rapporteur added, citing a 2014 report by the U.N. Commission of Inquiry.
"I also note that the signing of the treaty took place against the context where the DPRK continues to commit deliberate belligerent acts, such as nuclear testing followed by the latest missile launch," he said. "Such acts adversely impact on the constructive efforts to address the ongoing gross human rights violations in the country, and reinforce even further the international community's resolve to pursue political and legal accountability." (Yonhap)