North Korea Steps Up Border Control, Toughens Punishment for Defectors
11:45 11.02.2015(updated 11:48 11.02.2015)
North Korea has tightened its patrols on the border with China in a bid to curb the flow of defectors, a human rights group said Tuesday.
Pyongyang is stepping up border controls with China and toughening punishment for those helping people leave the country, Yonhap news agency reports.
Many North Koreans who wish to move out usually do this via the country's border with China, only to be sent back by the Beijing authorities, who regard them as illegal immigrants, not refugees.
The news comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is ratcheting up efforts to suppress news from the outside world, said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, in a statement.
'Kim Jong-un is trying to silence news of his systemic and pervasive rights crimes by going after the messengers, such as people with connections in South Korea or those who can help North Koreans flee there,' Robertson said.
There are thousands of North Koreans reportedly hiding in China hoping to move to a third country before resettling in South Korea, in addition to an estimated 26,000 North Korean defectors already living there.
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