North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004

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North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An act to promote human rights and freedom in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and for other purposes.
Enacted by the 108th United States Congress
Effective October 18, 2004
Citations
Public Law 108-333
Statutes at Large 118 Stat. 1287, 1288, 1289, 1290, 1291, 1292, 1293, 1294, 1295, 1296 and 1297
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R. 4011 by James Leach (R-IA) on March 23, 2004
  • Committee consideration by International Relations and Judiciary
  • Passed the House on July 21, 2004 (voice vote)
  • Passed the Senate on September 28, 2004 (unanimous consent) with amendment
  • House agreed to Senate amendment on October 4, 2004 (voice vote)
  • Signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 18, 2004

Signed into U.S. law by President George W. Bush on October 18, 2004, the North Korean Human Rights Act is intended to make it easier for the United States to assist North Korean refugees by:

  1. Providing humanitarian assistance to North Koreans inside North Korea;
  2. Providing grants to private, non-profit organizations to promote human rights, democracy, rule of law, and the development of a market economy in North Korea;
  3. Increasing the availability of information inside North Korea;
  4. Providing humanitarian or legal assistance to North Koreans who have fled North Korea.

The North Korean Human Rights Act[edit]

H.R. 4011, the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, passed the U.S. Senate on September 28, 2004, after a lengthy amendment process. The amended version of the bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on October 4 without further changes.

On October 18, 2004, President George W. Bush signed the North Korean Human Rights Act, which offered U.S. support for human rights groups in North Korea and for refugees leaving the secretive state.

According to a statement released by the White House on October 21, 2004, the "Act provides [the U.S.] with useful new tools to address the deplorable human rights situation in North Korea by focusing [U.S.] efforts to help both those who flee the regime and those who are trapped inside the country."

According to a March 23, 2004, House resolution, the intent of the Act is "[t]o promote human rights and freedom in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and for other purposes."

The Act earmarked $24M a year for such causes and made North Koreans eligible for political asylum in the United States.

Sec. 302(a) of the Act states that the purpose of the Act "is not intended in any way to prejudice whatever rights to citizenship North Koreans may enjoy under the Constitution of the Republic of Korea." However, interesting and potentially significant wording found in Sec. 302(b) states that "a national of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea shall not be considered a national of the Republic of Korea." Previously, North Koreans had been treated as citizens of South Korea, which still technically claims sovereignty over the whole peninsula.

On September 23, 2008, the U.S. Congress extended the Act for four more years.[1] The North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2008 was signed by President Bush on October 7, 2008. There were some revisions in this newest iteration of the Act, including elevating the post of U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights to full ambassador while halving the funding for programs to promote human rights to $2 million from the initial $4 million.[2]

History of the North Korean Human Rights Act[edit]

The North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 was originally sponsored by U.S. Senator Sam Brownback in response to "one of the worst human rights disasters in the world." Although not stated, but according to Brownback, the Act "calls on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to demand access to North Korean refugees in China, and urges heightened diplomatic pressure on China to reverse its policy of capturing and repatriating North Korean refugees. China must stop turning a blind eye to the suffering, persecution and execution of the citizens of its neighbor." [3]

Implementation[edit]

The law established an office at the State Department focused on North Korean human rights. In the George W. Bush administration, the office was run by Special Envoy Jay Lefkowitz. At the conclusion of the administration, Lefkowitz issued a final report on developments since the law's enactment. [1]

On May 5, 2006, six unnamed North Koreans were granted refugee status by the United States, the first time the U.S. accepted refugees from there since the North Korean Human Rights Act was signed in October 2004. The group, which arrived from an unnamed Southeast Asia nation, included four women who said that they had been the victim of forced marriages.

Current as of September 15, 2008, there have been 63 North Korean refugees who have been permitted to enter the United States, most notably the latest Kim Mi-ja (alias), who became the first North Korean defector to gain permanent residence in the U.S. without an interview.[4]

Reauthorization[edit]

H.R. 5834 The North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act was presented to the President on September 26, 2008[5] and was signed into effect on October 7, 2008.[6]

The primary focus of the bill is to increase the United States' involvement in the assistance of North Korean refugees. The bill mentions several observations specifically regarding the minimal amount of progress that has taken place since the passage of the North Korean Human Rights Act 2004. The NKHRA was extended in 2008 highlighting the full-time position of the U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues. Robert R. King is the current Special Envoy who was appointed in August 2009. In 2012, NKHRA was extended until 2017 reaffirming China to halt repatriation of North Koreans. In its findings, Congress wrote that resettlement of North Koreans in the U.S. has risen and that they hope to make their resettlement program for North Koreans stronger.

Full Text of the 2008 Reauthorization [2] Full Text of the 2012 Reauthorization [3]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Brownback applauds passage of North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act", Sam Brownback official Senate website, September 23, 2008. Retrieved on September 25, 2008.
  2. ^ Kim Sue-young, "US Congress extends NK Human Rights Act", The Korea Times, September 24, 2008. Retrieved on September 25, 2008.
  3. ^ Sam Brownback, "North Korea", Sam Brownback official Senate website. Retrieved on September 25, 2008.
  4. ^ "N.Korean defector gets permanent U.S. residency", Digital Chosunilbo, September 17, 2008. Retrieved on September 25, 2008.
  5. ^ http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/110_HR_5834.html
  6. ^ http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/10/08/america/NA-US-North-Korea-Rights.php

External links[edit]