Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, applauded House passage of bipartisan legislation to strengthen sanctions against North Korea.   H.R. 1771, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, was introduced by Chairman Royce and has the support of more than 140 co-sponsors and humanitarian groups worldwide, strengthens existing sanctions against North Korea by prohibiting North Korea’s access to critical resources — such as hard currency and other goods — that keep the Kim regime in power.  Importantly, the legislation holds North Korean officials accountable for gross human rights abuses, which were highlighted in the recent United Nations Commission of Inquiry.  In strengthening sanctions against North Korea, the legislation in no way affects humanitarian aid.   The Committee passed the legislation in May.

Upon House passage of H.R. 1771, Chairman Royce said:  “North Korea has one of the worst human rights records of any country in the entire world.  At the same time, it is pursuing nuclear weapons that threaten not only United States but our close allies as well.  For over 20-years, the world has turned a blind eye to the horrible crimes against humanity carried out by North Korea.  Earlier this year, the UN Commission of Inquiry laid out the most damning evidence to date regarding the regime’s systematic persecution of its own people.  For those of us on the front lines of North Korea human rights, this report is a call to action that must not be ignored.

“The North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act holds the regime accountable for its deplorable human rights record and its nuclear proliferation.  This bipartisan legislation, which has strong support from humanitarian groups worldwide, targets the regime where it is most vulnerable – its access to hard currency.  By shutting down North Korea’s illicit activities, we deprive the Kim regime of the money he needs to pay his generals and to conduct nuclear weapons research.”   

H.R. 1771:

·         denies sanctioned North Koreans and their enablers’ access to the United States, blocking all property, including access to the U.S. financial system;

·         calls for a determination as to whether North Korean banks and government entities are primary money laundering concerns, requiring that banks meet strict monitoring and reporting rules when dealing with those banks and entities;

·         provides the Administration the tools necessary to sanction third-country persons and banks that facilitate North Korean proliferation, smuggling, money laundering, and human rights abuses;

·         authorizes the President to sanction banks and foreign governments that facilitate the financial restrictions of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2094, passed in the wake of North Korea’s last nuclear test;

·         blocks and seizes any assets connected with North Korea’s proliferation, illicit activities, and human rights violations;

·         requires enhanced inspection requirements to ships and aircraft arriving from ports and airports that fail to meet their international obligation to inspect North Korean cargo carefully (This provision protects the U.S. homeland from ports that deliberately fail to sufficiently inspect North Korean cargo.);

·         holds North Korean officials accountable for human rights abuses.