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'Missed opportunity' if summits ignore N Koreans' rights: UN official

AFP  |  Seoul 

A senior UN warned Friday it would be a "missed opportunity" if diplomatic talks with this year did not address human rights, urging and to highlight the issue.

The impoverished but nuclear-armed nation stands accused by investigators of "systematic, widespread and gross" human rights violations that range from rape, torture, extrajudicial killings to running political prisoner camps.

calls such accusations anti-regime propaganda.

But the issue was sidelined during Kim's summits last year with democratically-elected presidents Moon Jae-in of and of the US, who have focused on diplomacy and the North's nuclear arsenal.

A second meeting between and Trump is expected soon, after which could potentially travel to

"It will be a missed opportunity if in 2019 human rights is not addressed by all the parties, including more importantly the government of DPR Korea," said Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the North, using the North's name.

The human rights situation remained "serious" in the isolated country, he told reporters in Seoul, despite last year's diplomatic developments.

The called on the to engage more strongly with to stop forced repatriations of North Korean defectors caught in China, which views escapees as illegal aliens rather than refugees.

Returnees to the authoritarian state can face imprisonment and torture, according to campaigners and rights groups.

Asked whether South Korean officials were hesitant to raise rights with the North in their pursuit of dialogue, Ojea Quintana said officials told him improved inter-Korean relations would "further improve human rights" in the reclusive state.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, January 11 2019. 15:45 IST