International Society's Policy Approach- Policy to Respond to North Korean Regime's Crime Against Humanity and International Society's Solution and Response
International Society’s Policy Approach- Policy to Respond to North Korean Regime’s Crime Against Humanity and International Society’s Solution and Response
Kim Tae Hoon, Attorney-at-law
Greetings! I am Kim Tae Hoon, commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea. I am honored to participate in an international conference to end crime against humanity, along with several renowned international human rights experts and activists.
As we are well aware of, widespread and systematic human rights violation in North Korea is so severe that UN General Assembly has passed North Korean Human Rights Resolution for six years in a row since 2005, and severity of North Korean human rights is a global issue. Arbitrary imprisonment, torture, inhumane treatment or punishment, and public execution are frequent; freedom of ideology, conscience, religion, __EXPRESSION__ and moving are completely limited, and defectors who are forcibly repatriated to North Korea are cruelly punished after torture. Especially at political prison camps, about two hundred thousand inmates are suffering forced labor under animal-like condition, isolated from the outside world and imprisoned by pre-modern group-punishment system.
Dr. Oh Kil Nam, who participates in this conference (born in March 11, 1942), while he was studying economics in Germany, defected to North Korea, believing the promise of the North Koreans that guaranteed professorship and best treatment for his ill wife in the winter of 1985. He took his wife Shin Sook Ja (born in 1942) and two daughters, Hye Won (born on September 17, 1976) and Kyu Won (born on June 21, 1978) but escaped to Germany in November 1986 after realizing he was deceived by North Korea, but his wife and daughters are sent to Yoduk Political Prison Camp in late 1987 and since then he lost contact with them. In North Korea now, there are too many people suffering in the hell-like prison camp without any guilt, like family of Dr. Oh.
Also, North Korea is following a wrong policy of distribution of resources, such as usage of international food aid for nuclear weapons development, even after the March of Tribulation, which resulted in approximately 3 million deaths by starvation. Because of the failure of the currency reform on November 30, 2009, people are suffering aggravated economic crisis. Furthermore, North Korea is threatening the world peace and breaking stability of East Asia by sinking ROKS Cheonan on March 26, 2010 and bombing Yeonpyeong Island on November 23, 2010, while seeking three-generation succession. Meanwhile, North Korea abducted many people including foreigners, since signing of armistice in 1953, but has not returned 500 of them, not even revealing whether they are alive.
The serious human rights violation committed systematically by North Korea’s state power cannot be corrected by themselves, so international intervention is inevitable. If we overlook the serious human rights violation that hurts human conscience on the grounds of sovereignty, this will be gross insult to humanity. UN applied the concept of ‘Responsibility to Protect’, which was adopted by the UN World Summit in September 2005, when it intervened into the Libyan crisis through UNSC Resolution 1973 in March 2011. European Parliament also demanded to form UN Commission of Inquiry for North Korean human rights improvement through a resolution passed in Strasbourg on July 8, 2010. UN General Assembly must strengthen the existing resolution, designate a group of experts to investigate whether North Korea’s human rights crisis constitutes crimes against humanity, and form a commission of inquiry on crimes against humanity. Also, it needs to make North Korea to allow the above expert group, as well as UN human rights professionals like the Special Rapporteur, to check human rights condition of the inmates of detention facilities like political prison camp.
In order to achieve practical outcome, such as formation of commission of inquiry on crimes against humanity, most of all, objective investigation on individual North Korean human rights violation cases and evidence by credible authorities to possible extent must supplement. The National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea, an independent human rights body, founded North Korean Human Rights Documentation & Archives on March 15, 2011, collecting, recording and preserving human rights violation cases and evidence systematically, for the first time by a government body. As of late July, 804 human rights violation cases were reported (10 political prison camp reports, 46 detention facilities, 56 POWs, 9 abductees and 683 separated family cases), and the commission plans to share the data gained through systematic investigation with domestic and international society. We believe this will be an important document to improve North Korean human rights.
So far, the international society has only paid attention to stopping North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, but refrained from mentioning North Korean human rights crisis in meeting with North Korean authorities. However, without improvement of North Korean human rights, nuclear weapons development cannot be stopped. The international society must work hard to include North Korean human rights issue into the bilateral and multilateral talks like the Six Party Talks and Nuclear Security Summit in 2012.
I sincerely hope the international conference here can be an opportunity to stop the worst human rights violation in the world, committed by the North Korean regime.