North Korea must legalise markets to prevent rights abuses: UN

SEOUL: North Korea must create a legal framework for traders buying and selling basic necessities such as food and clothing to tackle rights violations in the country, the UN’s human rights body said on Tuesday.
Campaign groups estimate around three-quarters of North Korea’s population depends on private market activity to survive since the collapse of the public distribution system — a state rations network — in the mid-1990s.
But despite being widespread, market activity remains a “legal grey area” in the North and a “source of further human rights violations”, said the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, people face both a failed public distribution system and an insecure informal sector where they are exposed to prosecution and corruption,” it said in a report, using the country’s official name.
The OHCHR document — based on interviews with 214 North Koreans — said Pyongyang had failed to legalise people’s efforts to find food and clothing outside the public distribution system, even though it was their only way to secure daily necessities. — AFP