North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004

Congress drafted the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 to address the oppressive conditions in North Korea.  As noted by Congress, North Korea is a dictatorship in which there is no freedom of speech, expression, or of the press; the government tortures political prisoners; and many people starve each year due to failed centralized agricultural policies.  To promote respect for and the protection of human rights in North Korea, the Act empowers the President to provide funding to NGOs that promote human rights, democracy, rule of law, and the development of the market economy.  The legislation is also focused on developing a more “durable humanitarian solution” for refugees, including encouraging China to stop returning refugees to North Korea, where they face torture or death.  To facilitate this effort, the Act creates the Special Envoy on Human Rights in North Korea at the State Department.  The North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2008 made the Special Envoy a full-time position.

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