WASHINGTON—U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs made the following statements after introducing H.R. 2061, the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017, alongside U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“Under Kim Jong Un’s brutal regime, North Koreans continue to be exploited and trafficked in the regime’s harsh labor system while dissidents are sent to work camps and subjected to starvation and torture. Without rule of law, justice, or freedom of speech, religion, press, and assembly, North Koreans live in constant fear of arrest, disappearance, and execution. As the Kim regime’s dangerous behavior increases, it is also essential that we promote North Korean human rights as an integral part of addressing the North Korean security threat. Instead of seeking to promote the well-being of its citizens, the regime in Pyongyang pours all of its available resources into illicit activity like its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation alongside Eliot, Ted, and Brad, which seeks to strengthen ongoing efforts to promote human rights in North Korea, provide desperately needed information to those inside, and protect refugees fleeing the regime.”
Statement by Engel:
“The Kim Regime in North Korea gives us no shortage of concerns, from its pursuit of illegal nuclear and conventional weapons, including ballistic missiles, to the alleged use of banned chemical weapons in a major regional airport. But we should never lose sight of another major problem: the Kim regime’s crimes against the rights and dignity of their own people. The people of North Korea have suffered immeasurably under the oppression of the Kim family. This measure, which authorizes support for North Korean refugees, would send a signal to all the people of North Korea that we see their suffering and our doors are open.”
NOTE: H.R. 2061, the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017, will extend until 2022 the authorities of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, which were last reauthorized and strengthened in a 2012 law also authored by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. The bill continues current authorities for North Korea-focused activities to promote human rights and democracy, refugee protection, and freedom of information (including broadcasting), as well as the U.S. Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues. It also continues reporting aimed at increasing transparency and accountability for any food aid provided to North Korea.