The US State Department on Thursday categorised North Korea as one of the “worst human trafficking nations” for the 16th straight year, citing the use of forced labour.
According to the annual ‘2018 Trafficking in Persons Report’, North Korea has been included in the Tier 3 category, which is the lowest ranking, along with China, Russia, and Iran, Yonhap News Agency reported.
“The government (of North Korea) does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so,” the report said.
“It used proceeds from state-sponsored forced labour to fund government functions as well as other illicit activity. It did not screen for or protect potential trafficking victims when they were forcibly repatriated from China or other countries,” it added.
The report further said that the “North Korean government continued to use forced labour in prison camps and labour training centres”, adding that it “encouraged forced labours of students and exported forced labour to foreign organisations.”
Commenting on the report, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We see the tragic examples of forced labour in North Korea as well. An untold number of North Korean citizens are subjected to forced labour overseas by their own government, in many cases with the tacit approval of host governments.”
The US State Department’s report comes as Pyongyang and Washington D.C. are negotiating North Korea’s dismantling of its nuclear weapon programme, following US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s historic meeting in Singapore on June 12.
The two leaders signed a joint agreement, wherein Kim agreed to work for a ‘complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula’ in exchange for security guarantees by the US.
The report also came after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) recently passed a resolution, wherein it banned other countries from issuing new work permits to North Korean workers.
The council also directed the governments of those countries to expel the workers before the end of 2019.
In a stark contrast, South Korea has been ranked at the highest category, that is, in the list of Tier 1 countries for the 16th consecutive year, along with US, UK, France and Canada.