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(LEAD) U.N. special rapporteur on N. Korean human rights to visit Seoul next week

2017/07/14 17:57

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(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- The United Nations' Special Rapporteur on the situation of North Korean human rights Tomas Ojea Quintana will visit South Korea next week to discuss ways to improve human right conditions in the reclusive country, the foreign ministry here said Friday.

During his five-day stay here from Monday, the U.N. point man on North Korean human rights conditions will meet with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and other officials from the unification and justice ministries as well as North Korean defectors residing in the South, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

In her meeting on Monday, Kang plans to inform Quintana of the government's policy on North Korean human rights and discuss how South Korea could cooperate with the U.N. to improve the situation, according to the ministry.

The special rapporteur's activities here will also include information gathering needed to compile his report to be presented to a U.N. General Assembly later in the year. He will wrap up his five-day trip with a press conference in central Seoul on Friday.

"My visit comes in the context of intensified hostilities in the region and with that, increased international scrutiny, including from the U.N. Security Council," Quintana said in his statement issued by the U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.

"Human rights are obviously under threat as tension rises and efforts to promote dialogue must address human rights concerns. It is part of my mandate to remind governments of this important principle," he underscored.

Since his appointment in March 2016, the special rapporteur has called on North Korea to allow him to gather first-hand information in the country, but he has not been granted access.