Leadership purge puts N Korea rights issue back in spotlight

Leadership purge puts N Korea rights issue back in spotlight
People watch television news showing Jang Song-thaek in court before his excution on December 12, 2013, at the rail station in Seoul on December 13, 2013. North North Korea has executed the uncle of its leader Kim Jong-un after a shock purge, state news agency KCNA announced early on December 13y, branding the once-powerful Jang Song-Thaek a "traitor".

NORTH KOREA- The issue of the dire human rights conditions in North Korea has resurfaced after the recent execution of Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong-un.

Some South Korean lawmakers called for a prompt passage of a bill on North Korean human rights, which has remained pending at the National Assembly due to political bickering since the first legislative move began in 2005.

Seoul's National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday sent to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights a letter calling the execution of Jang an "explicit violation" of the right to life stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"Many people close to Jang Song-thaek are continuously exposed to threats to their right to life for political reasons. It will be difficult to know even when they are executed or sent to political prison camps due to the isolationist nature of North Korea," the letter said.

"It explicitly ignored its pledges to the international community by attempting to overlook even the most fundamental international human rights treaties."

On Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Jang's execution a violation of human rights law.

"The period ahead should be used to build confidence in the international community and to improve living conditions for the country's long-suffering people," Ban said in a press briefing. "I stand ready to offer my good offices."

Jang, once dubbed the No. 2 man in the North, was executed last Thursday immediately after a special military court meted out the death penalty for plotting to subvert the regime. The court did not give him a chance to lodge an appeal.

Observers said that the international community should continue to voice concerns over the violations of human rights by the reclusive regime to pressure it to improve the situation.

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