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Rubio, Kaine Bill to Reauthorize North Korean Human Rights Act Advances

Jul 19, 2022 | Press Releases

The North Korean Human Rights Act was first passed in 2004 following international outcry over the treatment of North Koreans under the regime of Kim Jong-il. Under Jong-il’s successor and son, Kim Jong-un, the human rights crisis has continued to unravel, as the regime limits food supplies, forces its citizens into slave labor, restricts outside media access, and seeks the forceful repatriation of North Korean refugees. 
In response, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2022. The bipartisan bill, introduced by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), would reauthorize the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 for five years past its expiration in September 2022.
Senator Rubio led the successful effort to reauthorize the North Korean Human Rights Act in 2018.

  • “Authoritarianism always leads to devastation, mass exodus, and suffering, and North Korea is no different. The United States must be unwavering in our support for those who oppose the Kim Regime from within North Korea and abroad. I urge my Senate colleagues to pass this bipartisan legislation quickly to ensure this critical assistance is reauthorized.” — Senator Rubio
  • “The North Korean regime continues to deny the most basic rights and freedoms to its people. The passage of this bipartisan legislation out of committee is critical in our fight to protect the dignity of the North Korean people and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to universal human rights. I will keep working with my colleagues to get it across the finish line.” — Senator Kaine

Specifically, the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act would: 

  • Reauthorize humanitarian assistance, democracy programs and broadcasting until 2027; 
  • Make technical changes to the bill to reflect the fact that the US Agency for Global Media replaced the Broadcasting Board of Governors; 
  • Require a report from the administration, within 180 days, on progress towards appointing a Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights, which has remained vacant since 2017; 
  • Require the State Department to expand efforts to increase North Korean refugees’ participation in U.S. and South Korean resettlement programs, including placing a refugee coordinator stationed in Asia and providing information on resettlement programs in information disseminated in North Korea;
  • Requires the administration to produce a report on humanitarian assistance to the North Korean people; and
  • Modify the North Korean Sanctions and Policy Act of 2016 to impose sanctions on foreign officials responsible for forcibly repatriating North Koreans back to North Korea, while exempting U.S. allies South Korea and Japan from this policy.