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Unification ministry says defectors' testimonies 'valuable records' on N.K. human rights situation

SEOUL, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) — The unification ministry said Monday that testimonies of North Korean defectors are “valuable records” that shed light on the human rights situation in their reclusive home country.

On Sunday, four North Korean defectors said they will file a lawsuit against Unification Minister Lee In-young for defamation over his recent remarks casting doubt over what defectors said about human rights situations in the North.

They claim that Lee has deemed defectors’ testimonies as “untrustworthy lies,” apparently taking issue with his recent remarks during a press conference with foreign journalists that their words lack a process of verification.

“The unification ministry and its minister believe that the testimonies of defectors are valuable records that let our government and the international community know about the human rights situations in North Korea,” Lee Jong-joo, the ministry’s spokesperson, told a regular press briefing.

The spokesperson added that efforts have been “faithfully” made to listen to their words and accumulate relevant data so as to paint an accurate picture of human rights situations in the North.

The ministry runs a center for North Korean human rights records, which depends on interviews with defectors as a major source of information necessary to figure out human rights situations in the reclusive and oppressive state.

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