Saturday, January 16, 2010

UN: North Korea has toughened up on defectors

Human rights have been a flash point in tense ties between North Korea and the Western world, but the issue has often been overshadowed by Washington's attempts to prod Pyongyang back to sputtering nuclear disarmament talks.

North Korea has toughened laws and increased punishments in recent years for those caught trying to leave the reclusive state, a U.N. rights envoy said on Friday.

"Over the past year plus, I've noted stricter punishment against people leaving the country of origin and we note generally a decline of outflows from the country of origin into neighboring countries," said Vitit Muntarbhorn, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea.

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