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North Korea’s Human Rights Record Under Scrutiny at United Nations

ICC Note:

The UN begins to look at North Korea in its first periodic review under the Human Rights Council.

12/7/09 North Korea (CSW)–North Korea’s human rights record will come under intense scrutiny today at the United Nations, as the country faces its first Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council.

In its submission to the inquiry, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) provided evidence of severe human rights violations, and called on North Korea to invite the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to visit the country. CSW called for “an end to executions and abuses against the liberty and security” of North Korean people, and concluded that “there is a prima facie case for the commission of crimes against humanity, as well as indicators of genocide”. North Korea’s “strict hierarchical system of government” suggests that “the political leadership, and in particular Kim Jong-il, is to be held responsible”.

In a letter to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, 150 individuals who have suffered at the hands of the North Korean regime state: “Some of us signing this letter were forcibly disappeared and deported …. without any judicial process whatsoever and with no notification to our families or friends as to our whereabouts, in sprawling encampments where we were arbitrarily deprived of our physical liberty and where we were subjected to forced labor so severe as to constitute slavery. We were subjected to food rations so extreme that we literally saw scores of our fellow prisoners die of malnutrition, starvation, and disease. We witnessed fellow detainees beaten for failure to meet work quotas, and executed without judicial review for infractions of labor camps regulations. Some of us were imprisoned because of a perceived or presumed offense of our fathers, grandfathers or husbands . We are seeking accountability and justice for the crimes committed against ourselves. And we are seeking international response and action to halt these ongoing violations.”

CSW’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas said: “North Korea’s human rights record is undoubtedly one of, if not the, worst in the world. Testimonies from North Korean defectors tell of unimaginable brutality and cruelty inflicted on prisoners in the gulags where some 200,000 are believed to be held. Today, as the UN reviews North Korea’s human rights record, let the truth be known and let there be no doubt whatsoever about the scale of the regime’s brutality. It is time for these crimes against humanity to be investigated by a UN commission of inquiry, and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.”

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