U.S. sanctions North Korean officials for rights abuses

AFP-JIJI Japan Times Jan 12, 2017

US authorities on Wednesday 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 U.S. Department of the Treasury said in a statement.

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

The Treasury announcement came as the U.S. 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.

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