On 28th February, Lord Alton of Liverpool asked the Government, in the light of the sanctions imposed by China against North Korea following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam and the recent ballistic missile test, whether they will call in the North Korean Ambassador. The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow up question about the Government’s engagement with China over their policy to return North Korean refugees to the country.
The Bishop of Peterborough My Lords, I have a particular interest in those who escaped from North Korea, both through my membership of the all-party group and the link that we have in the diocese of Peterborough with the diocese of Seoul in South Korea, which does a lot to support escapees. Can the Minister please tell us whether our Government are talking to the Government of China about their apparent policy of sending refugees straight back to North Korea, where they face execution or incarceration in camps, and whether we will ask China to allow people freedom of passage to those countries which welcome them?
Baroness Anelay of St Johns The right reverend Prelate raises an important issue on which we are at variance with the Chinese. They believe that those who flee the DPRK to save their own lives are in fact economic migrants and are therefore subject to return. I can assure the right reverend Prelate that we did indeed raise the issue of forced repatriation of refugees on numerous occasions with China, most recently at the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in October, and we will continue to do so, including in international fora. We have also discussed the UN Commission of Inquiry report with senior Chinese officials in Beijing. It is important that we keep up pressure on this matter.