Committee Speaks Out for North Korean Refugees (Rep. Ed Royce)

I am delighted that the legislation I authored on the plight of North Korean refugees cleared the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  The measure focuses on China's forced repatriation of North Korean refugees, calling on Beijing to halt the practice.  The bill passed the Committee unanimously and is likely to be considered by the full House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee spoke with one voice on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees who have fled to China.  Beijing can no longer systematically disregard its international obligations by forcibly repatriating these individuals to North Korea.

These individuals -- whose only crime is fleeing the repression of Kim Jong-Il -- are actively hunted down by Chinese authorities and returned to North Korea, where they face brutal imprisonment in concentration camps or even death.  The Chinese Government has pursued this practice for years, yet by many accounts it is only getting worse.

Specifically, the resolution calls on China to honor its obligations under the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol by:  halting the forced repatriation of North Korean refugees; terminating the practice of automatically classifying all North Korean border crossers as illegal economic migrants; and granting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees unfettered access to such refugees.

BACKGROUND -- Rep. Royce is a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the Subcommittee on Asia.  He recently returned from a trip to Seoul where this issue was raised with members of the South Korean National Assembly and others.  Joining Royce as the primary cosponsor of the resolution is Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.-33), Chair of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Interparliamentary Exchange.