UN urges Russia not to implement extradition treaty with N. Korea

26th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

A United Nations rights expert on Friday urged Russia not to implement a new extradition treaty with North Korea, fearing that deportees risked facing harsh treatment after being repatriated.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in North Korea, Marzuki Darusman, said the treaty signed this month could be used to capture and repatriate North Korean fugitives and asylum seekers, according to a statement posted on the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner website.

"I strongly urge Russia to respect the principle of non-refoulement and not to implement the treaty", Darusman said in reference to a principle of international law that forbids the rendering of a victim of persecution to the persecutor, often a state.

The treaty reportedly calls for repatriating people who have illegally left their country and stay illegally in another's territory.

There are an estimated 10,000 North Koreans working in Russia, some of whom stay in the country after their contracts have expired in order to seek asylum. Others fleeing the North try to reach Russia through other countries.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea said in its 2014 report that persons who were forcibly repatriated to the country were commonly subjected to torture, arbitrary detention, summary execution, forced abortions and other sexual violence.

In November last year, Russia and North Korea signed a separate extradition treaty, calling for mutual assistance in criminal matters, Darusman said.

He said he was concerned the latest treaty signed in February was "much broader in scope" and might lead to forced repatriation to North Korea of individual at risk of human rights violations.

"Given the practice of the DPRK to send labourers 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", he said.

The practice of sending workers abroad "to be exploited" may constitute "state-sponsored enslavement" of human beings, possibly amounting to a "specific category of crime against humanity", he said.

"At this very moment when the deployment of such labourers has become a matter of grave concern, the signing of an agreement of this nature amplifies the apprehension of the international community", he added.

© 2016 AFP

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