The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) Secretariat reported that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has concluded that "the continued detention since 1987 of Ms. Shin Sook Ja, Ms. Oh Hae Won, and Ms. Oh Kyu Won has been and is arbitrary."
At a press conference in Seoul on May 29th, the ICNK Secretariat released the official opinion from the UN Working Group and urged the return of the detainees.
Through the official opinion, the UN reached the conclusion that Shin and her daughters have been arbitrarily detained since 1987 and remains so today. Additionally, the report urged the North Korean authorities to take actions necessary to solve the situation. These actions are the immediate release of, and adequate reparations to, the victims.
This new resolution overturned the 1995 UN resolution which postponed Shin’s case after ruling that it "could not reach a conclusion that Mrs. Shin Sook Ja and her daughters Oh Hae Won and Oh Kyu Won had been, or still were, under detention."
The decision comes despite the North Korean authorities’ response last month to the Working Group. On April 27th, the North Korean authorities sent a short 7 sentence statement to the Working Group stating that "Ms. Sin [sic] Suk Ja...died of hepatitis that she suffered since 1980's" and "[The] two daughters of Ms. Sin
[sic] do not regard Oh as their father since he abandoned his family."
Despite lacking actual legal enforcement, the official opinion creates new ways for the international community to pressure the North Korean authorities to safely return the family to South Korea. Saenuri Party lawmaker Ha Tae Kyoung expressed hope in a press report stating “If China does not veto, but instead accepts, or at least abstain from, the UN’s diplomatic resolutions on North Korea, we believe that the global community will presumably take further action against the harsh humanitarian conditions in North Korea.”
Based on the WGAD opinion the ICNK Secretariat called on the North Korean regime to prove Shin’s death by providing more detailed information and to return the remains of Ms. Shin to her husband, Dr. Oh. Furthermore, the Secretariat urged the reunion of Dr. Oh with his daughters in a third party nation, and the eventual repatriation of the family to South Korea.
Dr. Oh told reporters at the press conference that the progress was positive and he looks forward to reuniting with his family soon.