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Human Rights Situation in North Korea Needs Reforms

In all areas related to the enjoyment of economic and social rights, including health, housing, education, social security, employment, food, water and sanitation, much of the country’s population is being left behind

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United Nations special rapporteur on the rights situation in North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana attends a press conference following his report on the country to the Human Rights Council, March 12, 2018 in Geneva. A year later, little has changed. (VOA)

Despite more than a year of international engagement and promises of economic reform by North Korea’s leaders, the human rights situation in the isolated country remains dire, a top U.N. rights official said Friday.

Blocked by the government from visiting North Korea, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea Tomas Quintana visited South Korea this week as part of an investigation that will be provided to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a factory in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, Aug. 7, 2018. (VOA)

Noting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has embarked on an effort to improve living conditions by focusing on economic development, Quintana said his preliminary findings showed those efforts had not translated into improvements in the lives of most people.

“The fact is, that with all the positive developments the world has witnessed in the last year, it is all the more regrettable that the reality for human rights on the ground remains unchanged, and continues to be extremely serious,” he told reporters at a briefing in Seoul.

“In all areas related to the enjoyment of economic and social rights, including health, housing, education, social security, employment, food, water and sanitation, much of the country’s population is being left behind,” Quintana added.

North Korea, Humaqn Rights
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in inside the Peace House at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, April 27, 2018.

Left out of talks

North Korea denies human rights abuses and says the issue is used by the international community as a political ploy to isolate it.

Human rights were noticeably absent from talks between Kim and the leaders of South Korea and the United States last year, over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

But in December, the United States imposed sanctions on an additional three North Korean officials, including a top aide to Kim, for serious rights abuses and censorship.

North Korea’s foreign ministry warned in a statement after the December sanctions were announced, that the measures could lead to a return to “exchanges of fire” and North Korea’s disarming could be blocked forever.

Kim acknowledgement

While noting he had “no specific information” on whether international sanctions were hurting ordinary North Koreans, Quintana said the sanctions targeted the economy as a whole and “raised questions” about the possible impact on the public.

He cited a reference by Kim in his new year message to the need to improve living standards, saying it was a rare acknowledgement of the economic and social hardships faced by many North Koreans.

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Still, the United Nations has confirmed the continued use of political prison camps housing “thousands” of inmates, Quintana said, quoting one source as saying “the whole country is a prison.”

He said witnesses who recently left North Korea reported facing widespread discrimination, labor exploitation and corruption in daily life.

There is also a “continuing pattern of ill-treatment and torture” of defectors who escaped to China only to be returned to North Korea by Chinese authorities, Quintana said. (VOA)

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Amazon Web Services To Promote Drone Innovation in India

India currently has nearly 100 drone startups and the autonomous drone aviation industry has great potential ahead

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Amazon Web Services Open Data sets with granularity will let drone developers innovate further and deeper. With industry-leading compute, storage, database, IoT, AI and L, drone developers and operators can now test new ideas quickly, and accelerate innovation. IANS

The Drone Federation of India (DFI) on Monday announced to make Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its preferred Cloud service to boost the development and innovate around the drone ecosystem in the country.

The non-profit industry body will work with retail giant Amazon’s Cloud arm to help provide a scalable, agile and secure Cloud infrastructure for drone manufacturers, application developers and operators to develop drone applications and accelerate time-to-market in India.

“AWS was a natural choice for us which will help drone manufacturers and developers as its Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) capabilities, open data sets and technical prowess are simply unmatched,” Rahat Kulshreshtha, President, DFI, told IANS.

The industry body signed an MoU with AWS at the ‘Drone Festival of India 2020’ here.

The collaboration will identify use cases for drones in India across various application areas such as land survey, precision agriculture, disaster management, and search and rescue missions, and build custom cloud-based solutions.

According to Rahul Sharma, President, India and South Asia Public Sector, Amazon Internet Services Pvt. Ltd (AISPL), verticals like agriculture, healthcare, smart cities etc will see massive drone deployment in months to come.

“AWS Open Data sets with granularity will let drone developers innovate further and deeper. With industry-leading compute, storage, database, IoT, AI and L, drone developers and operators can now test new ideas quickly, and accelerate innovation,” Sharma told IANS.

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The Drone Federation of India (DFI) on Monday announced to make Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its preferred Cloud service to boost the development and innovate around the drone ecosystem in the country. VOA

India currently has nearly 100 drone startups and the autonomous drone aviation industry has great potential ahead, stressed Kulshreshtha.

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Significant innovation in the drone industry is also happening around vision-based navigation systems, which equip drones with ML and vision-based features like indoor and spatial navigation, to further improve safety in advanced collision avoidance. (IANS)