President Donald Trump said that he discussed human rights issues with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un during their historic summit on June 12.
In a news conference following the summit, Trump was asked, “What do you, President Trump, expect Kim Jong Un to do about the human rights record regarding the North Korean people?”
“It was discussed relatively briefly compared to denuclearization, that is where we started and ended,” Trump said, according to The Daily Caller. “They will be doing things and I think he wants to do things.”
“It’s a rough situation over there, no question about it and we did discuss it today pretty strongly, knowing the main purpose of what we are doing. But discussed it at good length, we will do something about it.”
The North Korean regime has committed “systemic, widespread and gross human rights violations” including “arbitrary detention, torture, executions and enforced disappearance to political prison camps, violations of the freedoms of thought, expression and religion, (and) discrimination on the basis of State-assigned social class, gender, and disability,” according to a 2014 report from a United Nations Human Rights Council commission.
The report also identified 130,000 political prisoners.
The commission concluded that these crimes had been committed by North Korean officials.
“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” the report said.
According to the report, these human rights abuses were ongoing “because the policies, institutions and patterns of impunity that lie at their heart remain in place,” CNN reported.
Critics of Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un cited these brutal abuses as reasons to not sit down with the dictator.
“It legitimizes the crimes that he’s committed,” Jean Lee, a Korea expert at the Wilson Center, told NPR.
Some mainstream news outlets reported that Trump would not discuss human rights with Kim during the summit, and those claims were widely circulated ahead of the event.
“NBC News cites two US officials saying the US has decided not to bring up human rights at all during talks tomorrow,” Megha Rajagopalan, China bureau chief and Asia correspondent for BuzzFeed, tweeted.
After roughly five hours of talks, the two leaders signed what the president described as a “very important” and “pretty comprehensive” document in front of reporters that outlined the results from the summit.
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