China may have intensified its lookout for North Koreans who have escaped the reclusive state to Chinese territory, a senior UN official said on Friday.
Beijing currently works with Pyongyang to send escapees who are arrested in China back to the repressive regime, which subjects them to severe punishments such as imprisonment and torture.
And Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the North, believes China “may have strengthened the search”.
“I have been receiving an increasing number of individual cases of North Korean escapees, including children, detained in Shenyang City, in China’s Liaoning province,” he said.
“Information suggests that China may have strengthened the search for North Korean escapees.”
The impoverished but nuclear-armed nation stands accused by the UN of “systematic, widespread and gross” human rights violations that range from rape, torture, extrajudicial killings to running political prisoner camps.
Pyongyang calls such accusations anti-regime propaganda.
The UN’s finding comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his two-day state visit to Pyongyang with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, showcasing the decades-old alliance “forged in blood” between the neighbours.