US sanctions N Korean officials for rights abuses

Washington: US authorities have announced sanctions against North Korean government agencies and senior officials – among them leader Kim Jong-Un’s sister – in response to Pyongyang’s “serious” human rights abuses and censorship activities.

The latest action, which sees another seven individuals added to America’s growing list of sanctioned North Koreans, targets security and prison officials accused of rights abuses.

Those blacklisted include Kim Won Hong, who heads the Ministry of State Security (MSS).

“The MSS engages in torture and inhumane treatment of detainees during interrogation and in the country’s network of political prison camps,” the US Department of the Treasury yesterday said in a statement.

“This inhumane treatment includes beatings, forced starvation, sexual assault, forced abortions, and infanticide.”

The Treasury announcement came as the US State Department released a report on rights abuses in North Korea, which it said are among the worst in the world.

“The North Korean government continues to commit extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, forced labor, and torture,” the State Department said.

The Treasury Department also targeted Kim Yo Jong, the vice director of the Workers’ Party of Korea Propaganda and Agitation Department and the younger sister of Kim Jong-Un, and Kim Il-Nam, who heads the South Hamgyong Province political prison camp.

Also on the list are Choe Hwi, Min Byong Chol, Jo Yong-Won, and Kang P’il Hun.

The sanctioned agencies are the State Planning Commission and the Ministry of Labor.

The United States in July placed Kim Jong-Un on its sanctions blacklist for the first time, calling him directly responsible for a long list of serious human rights abuses.