KOREA: CSW WELCOMES UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS’ SUPPORT
FOR INTERNATIONAL INQUIRY
Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, yesterday called
for an international inquiry into serious human rights violations in
North Korea, stressing that concerns about the country’s nuclear
programme must not be allowed to overshadow the “deplorable”
human rights situation of its people.
Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) welcomes her remarks, which represent a
response to years of campaigning. CSW first recommended an
international inquiry in 2007 in its report North
Korea: A Case to Answer, A Call to Act.
CSW helped establish the International Coalition to Stop Crimes
against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK), drawing together over 40
human rights organisations around the world to campaign for an
investigation into North Korea’s human rights record.
Yesterday, CSW delivered a letter to the Foreign Secretary William
Hague on behalf of the ICNK, calling on Britain to support a UN
Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity in North
Korea. A similar request was also made in a letter to the Foreign
Secretary in October 2012, signed by 179 former North Korean
political prisoners and defectors.
letter, the ICNK argues that “an international, independent
inquiry, mandated by the UN and supported by the UN Special
Rapporteur and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,
is needed to investigate and further establish facts, and evaluate
both new and existing evidence and allegations to ascertain if there
are, prima facie, sufficient grounds to view those violations as
crimes under international law, and make recommendations to the UN
Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.”
Korea is one of the world’s worst human rights violators. There is
no freedom of speech, assembly, movement, press, conscience or
religion. No dissent is tolerated at all, and the regime controls the
people through an extensive system of surveillance and propaganda. An
estimated 200,000 people are detained in an extensive system of
prison camps. Hundreds of thousands of prisoners have died due to
starvation, inhumane living conditions or execution, and many more
endure shocking torture and regular beatings. Whole families are
jailed for the perceived political crimes of a relative, under a
policy of ‘guilt by association’ that inflicts punishment on up
to three generations.
most recent annual report, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights
in North Korea described the government’s human rights abuses as
“egregious” and recommended the establishment of “a more
detailed mechanism of inquiry.” The US government was also asked to
support an international inquiry in December 2012, in a letter
written by Edward Royce, Chairman of the US House of Representatives
Foreign Affairs Committee.
January, the House of Lords will discuss the human rights and
humanitarian situation in North Korea in a debate tabled by Lord
Alton of Liverpool.
Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “We very much welcome the
UN High Commissioner’s statement, and believe, as she does, that an
international inquiry is long overdue. We urge the United Kingdom,
other members of the European Union, Japan, the United States and
South Korea to work with others within the United Nations to
establish a Commission of Inquiry at the Human Rights Council in
further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri
Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44
(0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.csw.org.uk.
Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for
religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit