|The U.S. State Department on Thursday designated North Korea as one of the worst human trafficking nations for the 18th consecutive year.|
The U.S. State Department on Thursday designated North Korea as one of the worst human trafficking nations for the 18th consecutive year.
The department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report said the North Korean government did not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and did not make significant efforts to do so, leaving it in the lowest category of Tier 3.
"During the reporting period, there was a government policy or pattern of forced labor in mass mobilizations of adults and children, in prison camps as part of an established system of political repression, in labor training centers, and through its imposition of forced labor conditions on DPRK overseas contract workers," the report said, referring to North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"It used proceeds from state-sponsored forced labor to fund government functions, as well as other illicit activity. The government did not demonstrate any efforts to address human trafficking," it added.
The report gave a detailed account of alleged abuses committed on adults and children forced to work in harsh conditions both at home and abroad.
It said the North Korean government's "egregious human rights violations" fueled human trafficking in neighboring China, where many North Korean refugees live illegally.
North Korean women were sexually exploited by their traffickers or sold to Chinese men for forced marriages, according to the report.
The department made a series of recommendations urging the North Korean government to improve the human trafficking situation, including by ending the use of state-sponsored forced labor. (Yonhap)