Human Rights in North Korea

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DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR EXTERNAL POLICIES

POLICY DEPARTMENT

POLICY BRIEFING

Human rights in North Korea

Abstract
The human rights record in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) has been widely condemned by the international community, including by the EU and the European Parliament. The ascension of the latest ruler of the Kim dynasty, Kim Jong-un, in December 2011 has not brought tangible change. Since the country is practically closed to foreigners, the human rights situation can only be evaluated based on the testimonies of refugees and defectors. Their reports consistently reveal blatant and unrepentant violations of human rights, which aim to elicit the total submission of the country's citizens to the regime and its ideology. While the majority of North Koreans suffer from permanent hunger, those who try to leave the country face harsh punishment upon repatriation. Citizens suspected of being disloyal to the regime and their families are placed, without trial, in prison camps with abhorrent conditions. North Korea is among the countries carrying out the highest numbers of executions in the world.

FOR EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT INTERNAL USE ONLY

DG EXPO/B/PolDep/Note/2012_265 PE 491.441

September 2012 EN

Policy Department, Directorate-General for External Policies

This Policy Briefing was requested by the European Parliament's delegation for relations with Australia and New Zealand.

AUTHOR:
Anete BANDONE Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union Policy Department WIB 06 M 85 rue Wiertz 60 B-1047 Brussels Feedback to anete.bandone@ep.europa.eu is welcome. Editorial Assistant: Pia VANNESTE

LINGUISTIC VERSION:
Original: EN

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:
Manuscript completed on 17 September 2012. © European Union, 2012 Printed inBelgium This Policy Briefing is available on the intranet site of the Directorate-General for External Policies, in the Regions and countries or Policy Areas section. To obtain paper copies, please send a request by e-mail to: poldep-expo@ep.europa.eu.

DISCLAIMER:
Any opinions expressed in this document are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. Reproduction and translation, except for commercial purposes, are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and provided the publisher is given prior notice and supplied with a copy of the publication.

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Human rights in North Korea

TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Overview Human rights violations International treaties Reactions of the international community Annexes 4 5 10 10 14

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Policy Department, Directorate-General for External Policies

1. Overview
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is an authoritarian state that emerged after the Second World War and has been ruled by the Kim dynasty ever since. The latest national elections, held in March 2009, were neither free nor fair. North Korea's human rights record is based principally on the testimonies of refugees and defectors. North Korea’s human rights situation is difficult to assess: the access of foreigners to the country is restricted and those who do enter are under close surveillance. North Koreans are not allowed to leave the country, which means that reports are mainly based on the contributions of refugees and defectors. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) report that North Korea commits blatant human rights violations: arbitrary and indefinite imprisonment, political prison camps, torture, public executions, suppression of workers’ rights, and prohibitions on freedoms of expression, media, movement, association and religion 1 . North Korea's human rights violations have been widely condemned, including by the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council, which have adopted several resolutions. Nevertheless, the North Korean government insists that there are no human rights issues in the country,...
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