US sanctions North Korean leader for first time over human rights
WASHINGTON/SEOUL – ReutersThe United States on July 6 sanctioned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the first time, citing “notorious abuses of human rights,” in a move diplomats say will infuriate the nuclear-armed country.
The sanctions, the first to target any North Koreans for rights abuses, affect property and other assets within the U.S. jurisdiction. They include 10 other individuals besides Kim and five government ministries and departments, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.
“Under Kim Jong Un, North Korea continues to inflict intolerable cruelty and hardship on millions of its own people, including extrajudicial killings, forced labor, and torture,” Acting Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam J. Szubin said in the statement.
But inside North Korea, adulation for Kim, 32, is mandatory and he is considered infallible. A 2014 report by the United Nations, which referred to Kim by name in connection to human rights, triggered a strong reaction from Pyongyang, including a string of military provocations.
Earlier this year, Congress passed a new law requiring U.S. President Barack Obama to deliver a report within 120 days to Congress on human rights in North Korea. It had designated for sanctions anyone found responsible for human rights violations.
Kim Jong Un, the third generation of his family to rule the Stalinist state, topped the list.
The U.S. Treasury Department identified Kim’s date of birth as Jan. 8, 1984, a rare official confirmation of the young leader’s birthday.
Many of the abuses are in North Korea’s prison camps, which hold between 80,000 and 120,000 people including children, the report said.
The five agencies designated were two ministries that run North Korea’s secret police and their correctional services, which operate the prison camps. Also named were the ruling Workers’ Party’s Organization and Guidance Department (OGD), a key bureau used by Kim to wield control of the party and the government.
The sanctions also named lower-level officials, such as Minister of People’s Security Choe Pu Il, as directly responsible for abuses.