Human Rights Crisis: DPR Korea’s Closed Society & Implications

Source The United Nations


Media – During a Security Council briefing on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said, “Human suffering of such scale and magnitude engenders instability, internally, and has wider implications.”

Briefing the Security Council on Thursday (17 Aug), Volker Türk, High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said, “Rarely has the DPRK been more painfully closed to the outside world than it is today.”

He added, “This is a result of Government policies initially linked to containing the COVID-19 pandemic, but which have grown even more extensive as the pandemic has waned.”

According to Türk, “Anyone who views so-called “reactionary ideology and culture” – a term used for information from abroad, in particular the Republic of Korea – may now face imprisonment of five to fifteen years. Any person found to have distributed such content faces life imprisonment or even the death penalty.”

The High Commissioner added, “In March 2023, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization noted that “a large portion of the population suffers from low levels of food consumption and poor dietary diversity, with food security expected to remain fragile in light of persisting economic constraints and agricultural shortfalls”. There are reports that starvation exists in parts of the country.”

Türk also noted, “The Government’s surveillance over its citizens, at home and abroad, has grown to an intensity rarely seen in other countries. People’s rights to privacy are systematically violated. Homes are subjected to random searches. Neighbors and family members are encouraged to report on each other.”

The UN’s top rights official said, “Thousands of enforced disappearances have been perpetrated by the State over the past 70 years, including of Koreans from both north and south of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and the abduction of other foreigners, mostly Japanese nationals.”

He said, “I sympathize deeply with the families of those who were abducted or disappeared and who now are or would be aged in their 80s and 90s. We must exert all efforts to ensure some measure of justice before it is too late.”

Türk stressed, “In the past, the DPRK was an active participant in a number of these mechanisms, despite its criticisms of various aspects of their work. Regrettably, in recent years, it has cut itself off from these much-needed sources of dialogue and guidance.”

The High Commissioner assured, “My Office continues to encourage the government to respond positively to my offer of technical assistance.”

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