China ramps up search for N Korean escapees

22 June, 2019 12:00 AM printer

SEOUL: China may have intensified its lookout for North Koreans who have escaped the reclusive state to Chinese territory, a senior UN official said on Friday, reports AFP.

Beijing currently works with Pyongyang to send escapees who are arrested in China back to the repressive regime, which subjects them to severe punishments such as imprisonment and torture.

And Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the North, believes China “may have strengthened the search”.

“I have been receiving an increasing number of individual cases of North Korean escapees, including children, detained in Shenyang City, in China’s Liaoning province,” he said.

“Information suggests that China may have strengthened the search for North Korean escapees.”

The impoverished but nuclear-armed nation stands accused by the UN of “systematic, widespread and gross” human rights violations that range from rape, torture, extrajudicial killings to running political prisoner camps.

Pyongyang calls such accusations anti-regime propaganda.

The UN’s finding comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his two-day state visit to Pyongyang with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, showcasing the decades-old alliance “forged in blood” between the neighbours.

It was the first visit by the Chinese leader to the North in 14 years after years of relationships strained by Pyongyang’s nuclear tests and long-range missile launches despite Beijing’s objections.

Despite a series of diplomatic events with North Korea over the past 14 months that included two North-US summits and three inter-Korean summit meetings, Ojea Quintana said human rights situation in the North remains “serious concern” and urged the North to address its human rights conditions.