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Unification minister urges passage of N. Korea human rights bill

2014/11/26 18:37

SEOUL, Nov. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification minister appealed to lawmakers Wednesday to pass a bill on North Korea's human rights abuse, citing the need for a legal basis for "systemic" efforts to address the problem.

The legislation, if adopted, would give a ray of hope to North Korean people, said Ryoo Kihl-jae, Seoul's point man on Pyongyang.

"If the North Korea human rights bills are enacted through a compromise between the ruling and opposition parties, the government will draw up a basic plan to improve North Korea's human rights conditions on the basis of that," Ryoo said at a forum here on reunification.

The Park Geun-hye administration will also make concrete efforts in cooperation with civic groups in South Korea and the international community to deal with the matter, he added.

It would help send a clear message not only to Pyongyang but also to the world that Seoul is not sitting idle over the suffering of people in the North, said Ryoo.

His call came as the National Assembly has launched formal discussions on a pair of long-pending bills -- one proposed by the ruling Saenuri Party and another proposed by the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy.

The move was apparently prompted by a U.N. panel's decision to put a fresh resolution against Pyongyang to a vote at the General Assembly. It calls for a referral of the North's leaders to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The ruling party's bill, if passed, would pave the way for the government to provide financial assistance to civic groups sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.

The main opposition party's version focuses more on promoting the North Korean people's rights to freedom.

lcd@yna.co.kr

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