Malta is deporting North Korean workers
Malta has cancelled all visas for North Korean workers, effectively expelling them, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday. This is a part of diplomatic campaign leading by South Korea and human rights groups.
Malta is the first European Union (EU) member to deport North Korean laborers in line with international calls to protect their human rights and prevent the North from pocketing their wages and diverting them for nuclear weapons development.
The Maltese government has refused to extend visas for some 20 manual laborers from Pyongyang when their work permits expired. Most of them returned home after working at construction sites and clothing-manufacturing factories, the sources said.
South Korea has been pressing the few countries that have ties with North Korea to push for changes in the isolated state, which has been criticized for its human rights record and for channeling wages earned by its workers abroad back to the North.
Malta had taken the move after South Korea and human rights groups raised concerns about the conditions faced by the North Korean workers. South Korea has been making diplomatic efforts to engage North Korea's old allies to press for change in the isolated state.
Poland has not issued new visas for North Koreans this year in reaction to the North's nuclear test and rocket launch at the beginning of the year amid concerns that Pyongyang may be subjecting its workers to conditions that violated their rights.