UN: North Korea COVID-19 Outbreak Could Have ‘Devastating’ Impact on Human Rights

The United Nations expressed worries on Tuesday over potential human rights abuses that could arise out of North Korea’s response to a massive COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

“The latest restrictions, which include putting people under strict isolation and imposing further travel restrictions, will have dire consequences for those already struggling to meet their basic needs,” UN human rights office spokeswoman Liz Throssell told a briefing.

North Korea reported its first acknowledged COVID-19 case last week, with a total of 56 deaths and nearly 1.5 million cases of “fever” since then.

“In the absence of any vaccination rollout, the pandemic’s reported spread may have a devastating impact on the human rights situation in the country,” Throssell said, noting that North Korea has “a very limited healthcare infrastructure to cope with such a crisis.”

Isolation measures and travel restrictions may also become an avenue for greater political and civil repression, Throssell said.

Throssell urged North Korean authorities to make sure that all safety measures implemented “are necessary, proportionate, non-discriminatory, time-bound and strictly in line with international human rights law.”

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