US singles out China for trafficking North Korean refugee women

Last week the US State Department singled out China as one of the worst offenders for human trafficking globally, downgrading the nation to Tier 3 – the lowest level, on par with Sudan, Iran and North Korea.

Tim Peters, a prominent advocate of Helping Hands Korea said: “Such a downgrade is richly deserved in my view. There has been a virtually lawless environment in China’s three northeast provinces adjacent to the DPRK [North Korea] with respect to widespread sex trafficking of North Korean women. Hundreds of thousands of women border-crossers have been funneled into ‘red light’ districts but especially into illegal ‘brides for sale’ networks.”

In a televised speech, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pointed out the United States’ concerns over forced labor, forced begging and sex trafficking in China and forced labor involving North Korean migrants whose salaries go directly to a North Korean government that is hard pressed for cash due to international sanctions.

The report called on China to stop forcibly repatriating North Koreans back to North Korea “without screening them for indicators of trafficking” and instead offer them humanitarian assistance and legal alternatives. According to several frontline groups, North Koreans who are sent back to the isolated state face forced labor and execution.

However, in past years, a secretive network of operators who rescue North Koreans who have fled into mainland China has helped take them safely along the 3,000-mile long “underground railroad” to a third country like South Korea where they get automatic citizenship.

[South China Morning Post]

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