Government 'deeply concerned' about religious freedom violations in North Korea

The government has said it is "deeply concerned" about reports of serious human rights violations against people of faith in North Korea.

The comment was made in a written answer to Lord Alton of Liverpool, who asked the government what assessment it has made of claims of a forced abortion on a woman suspected of being a Christian. 

The claims were contained in a report by the Korea Future Initiative, which detailed horrific accounts of forced abortions being performed on women facing criminal charges for religious adherence. 

One woman described how she was made to stand trial three days after her baby was aborted at 21 weeks. She was detained after being sent back to North Korea from China, where she had fled to and was suspected of attending a church. 

Other reports told of babies being born alive during forced abortions, only to be smothered to death by officers. 

Responding to Lord Alton's question, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said, "The UK is deeply concerned by reports, including from Korea Future Initiative, which tell of serious human rights offences and persecution of those who are caught practising religion.

"Defending the right to freedom of religion or belief for all is a priority for the UK Government and we continue to use international fora to call on the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] government to acknowledge and address the many reports of serious and wide-ranging human rights violations in the country.

"We also raise our concerns directly with the DPRK government, including with the DPRK's Ambassador in London."

He added that the UK would continue to stand up against the "cruel practice" of torture, and that it was working with global partners to end its use and "deliver justice for victims".