A new report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide accuses North Korea of international crimes against humanity, and recommends that the UN establish a strong commission of inquiry.
The report, North Korea: A Case to Answer - A Call to Act, states that there is a prima facie case for the commission of crimes against humanity, namely murder, extermination, enslavement/forced labour, forcible transfer of population, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance of persons, other inhumane acts and, perhaps, rape and sexual violence.
The report also examines the possibility of genocide and concludes that there are indicators of genocide against religious groups, specifically Christians, implemented in particular in the 1950s and 1960s.
The strictly hierarchical system of government and the information available about decision-making in North Korea suggests that the political leadership, and in particular Kim Jong-Il, is responsible for the commission of such crimes, the report claims.
The analysis focuses primarily on the extensive political prison camp system where 200,000 people are believed to be held. It has been written by international lawyers and provides extensive testimonies and quotes from North Koreans. It represents the culmination of seven years of research and draws heavily on interviews and consultations with over 80 North Korean defectors.
Ahn Myeong-Cheol, a former guard who worked at four political prison camps, and Shin Dong-Hyok, who was born in a political prison camp under exceptional circumstances and only escaped in 2005, spoke at the launch of the report.
Following the launch, they spoke at a meeting of the All-Party British-North Korean Parliamentary Group and met with Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron.
Elizabeth Batha, Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s International Advocate who headed up the team writing the report, said: “It is vital that the international community recognises the scale of what is taking place against the North Korean population. The UN has recognised that it has a ‘responsibility to protect’ populations where national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from crimes against humanity and genocide.
“We urge the international community to respond urgently and effectively to bring an end to the terrible crimes being perpetrated against the North Korean people. Our recommendation to establish a UN commission of inquiry would be a first crucial step towards this end.”