The US special envoy for North Korean human rights will visit South Korea and Japan this month to mark the 10th anniversary of the release of a landmark UN report on the North's rights violations, the State Department said Friday.
Ambassador Julie Turner's two-nation trip from Monday through Feb. 22 comes as activists and government officials in Seoul and Washington have paid renewed attention to the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) report that accused North Korean officials of "systematic, widespread and gross" human rights violations.
In both countries, Turner plans to meet government representatives, civil society activists and North Korean defectors.
"In the ROK, Special Envoy Turner will discuss efforts to promote accountability for those responsible for North Korea's egregious human rights violations and how best to advance the welfare of the North Korean people," the department said in a press release. ROK stands for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.
"She will also participate in events commemorating the landmark UN COI report, engage with aspiring foreign policy leaders, and visit entities providing support and education to recently arrived North Korean escapees," it added.
In Japan, the special envoy plans to highlight the North's practice of what the department called "enforced disappearances," which includes "abductions," and emphasize the need for an immediate resolution to such cases, according to the release.
"Special Envoy Turner's trip will underscore the US commitment to promoting human rights in North Korea, increasing access to uncensored information within the closed country, and empowering survivor voices advocating for concrete change," it said.
On Wednesday, Turner called on the North to launch a "reform" process to enhance its rights situation in line with the recommendations in the COI report, while stressing that promoting respect for human dignity in the reclusive state remains a "top" priority for Washington. (Yonhap)