Covid-19: UN rapporteur calls for relaxation of sanctions on North Korea

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The United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on the human rights situation in North Korea, Tomás Ojea Quintana, urged the international community to urgently consider suspending sanctions against the country, which may be worsening the problems of lockdown imposed by the new coronavirus pandemic, according to the outline of a report released on Thursday (15).

North Korea, which has reported no confirmed infections, has been subject to UN sanctions since 2006 because of its nuclear and ballistic programs, and in recent years increasingly tough measures have been taken.

The country has imposed strict border controls this year, amid tough measures against the new coronavirus, but is suffering from sanctions and “systemic economic problems and unusually bad weather,” Quintana wrote.

Although North Korean restrictions seek to protect the rights of its people to life and health, lockdowns Strict rules have a “devastating” effect on trade, added the rapporteur.

Reducing trade, in turn, threatens food supplies and access to humanitarian aid, he said in the report, which will be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly next week.

Faced with the unprecedented situation of the covid-19 pandemic, Quintana said that he believes that the international responsibility to reevaluate the sanctions regime is more urgent than ever.

The increased imposition of sanctions has begun to “seriously affect the entire economy of the country” and has adverse consequences on the economic and social rights of the population, he noted.

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