N.Korea, Lao security ministries sign security
Agreement's details not revealed, but observers
concerned about defectors' repatriation
North Korean and Lao security agencies recently signed an agreement, DPRK state
media announced on Saturday, which may possibly relate to the repatriation of
North Korean defectors in Laos.
Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that a delegation of the Ministry
of People’s Security, had talks with a delegation of the Lao Ministry of Public
Security. They talked about “mutual concern and boosting the cooperation of
the two security organs” when signing the agreement, but its specific terms
are not known yet.
has been raised that the agreement relates to the repatriation of North Korean
defectors in Laos. Nine teenager defectors were captured in Laos in 2013 and
forcefully returned to the North, igniting international criticism. North Korea
and Russia were also criticized internationally following the signing of an extradition treaty in February.
Ministry of Public Security did not respond to NK News‘ inquiries as to whether
or not the agreement relates to extradition.
general the position of the office is that bilateral agreements of this type
should fully respect the principle of non-refoulement and protect people from
forced repatriation,” Tarek Cheniti, a deputy representative of the UN Human
Rights Seoul Office told NK News.
established diplomatic ties with North Korea in 1974. The two countries have
maintained relations and sought cooperation in trade and technology. A UN source
said the government of Laos would be as well pressured globally if the agreement
is found out to be extradition treaty.
signed and ratified the UN convention against torture,
which bans every country from extraditing a person to where they would be in
danger of being subject to torture,” Ahn Younkyo, a UN head officer told NK
News. Those violating the convention would be publicly identified, increasing
pressure on their governments.
source familiar with North Korean defectors said North Korea might have pressured
the Lao government.
takes about 15 days to a month on average, or two months maximum for North Koreans
to head to South Korea. The fastest route for defectors is to pass through Laos
rather than heading to Thailand,” Chun Ki-won, a pastor of Durihana church
told NK News.
since last winter, there has been an increase in the number of defectors who
have had to wait for more than 100 days and with no permission to head to South
said the waiting period had perhaps been extended because most North Koreans
find it easiest to fly to Seoul from Laos rather than depart to Thailand and
wait for another two-three months. A significant number of them had come to
Laos over the last three years, which presumably placed a substantial burden
on the Ministry of Immigration.
Chun said the agreement is most likely to put pressure on the Lao government
to tackle defection.
Image: Wikimedia North Korean embassy in Vientiane, Laos