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12.6.

2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/59

Answer given by Ms Schreyer on behalf of the Commission

(9 September 2002)

The Commission would inform the Honourable Member that her question requires detailed research by its
departments and that their findings will be set out in a supplementary answer.

(2003/C 137 E/066) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2242/02


by James Nicholson (PPE-DE) to the Council

(23 July 2002)

Subject: Oppression of North Korean refugees

Some 150 000 refugees are believed to be in hiding on the Chinese side of the border between China and
North Vietnam. These people have been denied refugee status by China and are liable to brutal and
inhumane treatment if captured and repatriated to North Vietnam. If it is suspected that there has been
any contact with Christians they are subjected to the most brutal of punishments.

If it is discovered that a prisoner has converted to Christianity then severe torture, detention in horrific
work camps or summary execution may follow.

Would the Council indicate the nature of representations made to the authorities in China and North
Vietnam regarding the plight of these refugees and advise what undertakings have been received to indicate
that such abuses will cease.

Reply

(6 February 2003)

1. The Council is aware of the serious situation of North Korean refugees and shares the preoccupations
raised by the Honourable Member in his question. The EU has repeatedly raised its grave concerns in high-
level contacts with Beijing and Pyongyang. The EU will continue to urge both parties concerned to respect
human rights and international humanitarian law, including refugee law, to which they are party,
irrespective of whether the motives for border crossings are humanitarian or political in nature.

2. The EU brought up the issue with the North Korean side during the last Human Rights briefing for
EU Heads of Mission in mid-May, and during the last EU Troika visit to Pyongyang in mid-June 2002.
On these occasions, the EU urged in particular the DPRK to respect the human rights of persons who are
detained at the border or forcibly repatriated by China. The EU also urged the DPRK Government to make
further efforts to raise living standards for its population in isolated areas bordering China.

3. The EU has also held several frank and detailed discussions with the Chinese authorities, both in the
context of the EU’s regular political dialogue and of the human rights dialogue; the last session was held in
Madrid in early March. The EU invited the Chinese side to pursue its pragmatic approach concerning
asylum seekers who have sought refuge in EU embassies, and to address the root causes of the problems
while fulfilling its obligations under the Convention of 28 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees.
The EU invited Beijing to encourage the DPRK not to punish those who return, and expressed the hope
that forced repatriations would not continue while punishments occurred. Finally, the EU declared its
readiness to work with the Chinese authorities, NGOs and UN Agencies to improve the situation of North
Koreans in China.