WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded the unanimous Senate passage of their bipartisan resolution to remember and celebrate the life of Cincinnati-native Otto Warmbier who was wrongfully imprisoned and horribly mistreated by the North Korean regime, which ultimately led to his death. The resolution also condemns the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and calls for the United States Government to continue to use its voice and vote in the United Nations to condemn systematic human rights violations in North Korea. The Senate passage of this resolution coincides with the three year anniversary of Otto’s passing on June 19, 2017.
Last year, Portman and Brown championed the Otto Warmbier North Korea Nuclear Sanctions and Enforcement Act which was included in the final FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and signed into law in 2019 and offers foreign banks and firms a stark choice: continue business with North Korea or maintain access to the U.S. financial system. It does this by imposing mandatory sanctions on the foreign banks and companies that facilitate illicit financial transactions for North Korea. The resolution passed today will ensure those sanctions remain fully implemented until such time that the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea commits to the verifiable suspension of its proliferation and testing of weapons of mass destruction, and has agreed to multilateral talks, including with the United States Government.
“Tomorrow marks three years since Otto died due to his mistreatment by North Korea, so Senate passage of this resolution is timely and important. We must continue to hold North Korea accountable for their actions and human rights abuses against Otto Warmbier and everyone they’ve illegally held captive. It’s important that we continue to work together to confront the threat that North Korea poses. Fred and Cindy Warmbier have been through more than any parent should have to endure and their commitment to holding North Korea accountable is admirable. I’m proud to be their friend and stand with them in that fight. We must ensure that Otto is never forgotten,” said Portman.
“We must maintain strong U.S. economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program and its gross human rights abuses, which ultimately took Otto Warmbier’s life,” said Brown. “As we remember Otto, we reaffirm our commitment to combating North Korea’s human rights violations against its own people and others that have been held captive over the years.”