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431-00129 (Foreign affairs)

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

Whereas early in November 2019, Moon Jae-in government of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) forcibly repatriated two North Korean fishermen, who defected to the South, back to North Korea (DPRK) without due process. There is no doubt that, back in North Korea, they will face torture and almost certain execution.

It is a flagrant violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other international human rights laws, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Refugee Convention).

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled, along with Global Affairs Canada, to issue a statement, as follows:

1. With respect to South Korea's Moon Jae-in government

  • Expressing denouncement, or deep concern, over the said forcible repatriation of two North Korean defectors back to North Korea; and
  • Urging the Moon government to take corrective actions, ensuring that it will fully comply with the international human rights laws, including ICCPR, CAT and 1951 Refugee Convention, in the future.

2. With respect to North Korea's Kim Jong-un regime

  • Urging the regime to disclose whereabouts of those two North Korean defectors repatriated by the South Korea's Moon government, and to treat them with humanity;
  • Urging the regime to comply with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in the DPRK adopted on December 18, 2019, and the recommendations made in the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry's report on human rights in the DPRK.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne

The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canada’s foreign policy. The Government of Canada takes its non-refoulement obligations under international human rights law very seriously and encourages other countries to do so.

Canada is concerned about reports of the repatriation of two North Koreans, accused of mass murder, to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), in November, 2019. United Nations bodies and other international organizations have raised this issue with the Republic of Korea, which provided its response in February 2020. The Republic of Korea has put in place programs to support and recognize the rights of North Korean defectors, and Canada stresses the importance of guaranteeing that necessary safeguards, such as access to legal services, are in place for the protection of all North Korean defectors.

Recognizing the importance of engaging with like-minded countries - such as the Republic of Korea - through multilateral organizations, bilateral diplomacy, development assistance, trade policy and service, Canada seeks to advance international human rights. Canada is committed to continue to work with the Republic of Korea on global challenges, including promotion and protection of international human rights.

Canada also advocates on North Korean human rights issues through our accredited mission in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, and seeks opportunities to highlight and address human rights concerns related to the DPRK.

The Government of Canada continues to closely monitor the situation of North Koreans who have fled their country. Canada advocates for the respect of the human rights of those who are displaced, persecuted, and in need of protection, including North Korean asylum seekers.

More broadly, the Government of Canada remains deeply concerned by the DPRK’s systematic human rights violations and works closely with allies and partners to highlight and address abuses in the country. As a strong advocate for human rights, Canada advocates for justice and accountability and regularly calls on the DPRK to address human rights and abide by international human rights standards.

Canada continues to support and co-sponsor resolutions on the situation of human rights in DPRK at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva and at the UN General Assembly in New York.

As a strong supporter of human rights promotion, Canada made recommendations during the DPRK’s third Universal Period Review (UPR) in May 2019, which focused on ensuring fundamental freedoms including freedom of speech and an independent press, and fulfilling its international human rights obligations.

In response to the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry’s report on human rights in DPRK, Canada continues to stress the importance of following up on the recommendations contained in the report. This report only reinforces the importance of the international community continuing to maintain pressure on the DPRK to respect the human rights of its people and address the humanitarian situation in that country.

Canada also commends the work of the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK for their ongoing efforts to shed light on the grave human rights situation. Canada reaffirmed its support for the important role played by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Tomás Ojea Quintana, and his office and welcomed the most recent human rights report highlighting specific challenges faced by women in the DPRK. Through multilateral engagement, Canada reiterates the call on the DPRK to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur and allow him to visit the DPRK to fulfill his mandate.  

Overall, Canada welcomes dialogue in support of strengthening security and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Canada calls on the DPRK to meet its international obligations to respect and promote universal human rights.  The Government of Canada also continues to call on the DPRK to respect the human rights of its people and urges the country to abide by international human rights standards in line with the rules-based international order.

Presented to the House of Commons
Judy A. Sgro (Humber River—Black Creek)
March 9, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00129)
Government response tabled
April 20, 2020
Photo - Judy A. Sgro
Humber River—Black Creek
Liberal Caucus

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