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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Thursday, 1 May 2014 (Afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Represented by 12 member, delegation headed by Mr. SO Se Pyong, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nation in Geneva

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea page on the UPR website

Troika *

Côte d’Ivoire, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea page on the UPR Extranet **)

  • During the period under review, as series of human rights-related laws were adopted thus securing the legal guarantees for the implementation of the policies of the State on the promotion and protection of human rights;
  • Among other measures, a Decree on the Enforcement of the Universal 12-year Education System was promulgated in September 2012, the Laws on the Protection of Child Rights and Women’s Rights adopted in December 2010, Labour Protection Law in July 2010, and Laws on Higher Education and General Education in January and December 2011;
  • The period under review was marked by the adopting or amending of more human rights laws than ever before and innovative measures were taken for the promotion and protection of civil and political rights;
  • A general pardon was granted to convicts in January 2012 and the term of penalties shortened and the degree of punishment mitigated through the amending of the Criminal Law in 2010;
  • Independence and impartiality of the judiciary was further ensured through the amending of the Criminal Procedures Law in 2011 and measures were taken for the prevention and punishment of human rights violations and abuse of power in the handling of cases by law enforcement officials;
  • The Government made great endeavours to bring about a radical improvement in economic construction;
  • In view of addressing the food shortages, incentives have been given to farmers through a new agricultural management system;
  • Progress has also been achieved in efforts to protect and promote the rights of children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities;
  • Efforts were also made to increase the number of women public officials and to provide them with systematic in-service training;
  • The Korean Federation for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities has expanded its scope of work and activities through early detection and rehabilitation of children with disabilities;
  • The Government of the DPRK endeavoured to continue to make sure its citizens enjoyed a higher level of genuine human rights, although they faced serious challenges in this regard;
  • The persistent politically motivated pressure and military threat by outside forces against the DPRK remained a major source of destructing the peaceful environment needed for the economic construction and to improve people’s living standards;
  •  The economic sanctions against the DPRK threatened the rights of DPRK citizens’ existence and posed a stumbling block to ensuring peaceful development in the country.

Participants

In total 83 States participated in the dialogue:  32 HRC members and 51 observers  (Statements available on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea page on the UPR Extranet **)

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The signing of the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities;
  • Efforts to reform the education system and the 12-year free and compulsory education system;
  • The provision of free health services and the adoption of the Medium Strategic Plan for Development of the Health Sector;  
  • Progress achieved in reducing child mortality;
  • The first reunion of families separated by the conflict in the Korean peninsula three years ago;
  • The ratification of the Convention for the suppression of terrorism.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Plans to end human rights violations cited in report of the Commission of Inquiry on the human rights situation in the DPRK and to implement the recommendations of the Commission;
  • Measures to dismantle political prison camps, release all political prisoners and allow international humanitarian organisations and human rights monitors with immediate access to prison camps;
  • Steps to abolish the death penalty and to combat torture;
  • The situation of abductees and family reunions;
  • Measures to end restrictions on the right to freedom of expression;
  • Efforts taken to end discrimination against women

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To fully implement the recommendations laid out in the report of the Commission of Inquiry; To acknowledge human rights violations, reported on by the CoI, and take immediate steps to end such violations and abuses; To hold those responsible for grave, widespread and systematic human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, accountable;
  • To grant access to the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation on the DPRK and accept technical cooperation from UN human rights mechanisms; To extend a standing invitation to the UN Special Procedures; To engage in dialogue with UN human rights mechanisms;
  • To dismantle all political prison camps, release all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and institute protection against arbitrary detention that guaranteed fair trial and due process; 
  • To provide international humanitarian organisations and human rights monitors with immediate access to prison camps and to their surviving victims;
  • To issue a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to abolish the death penalty; To end the practice of public executions and disclose data on the use of the death penalty; To take measures to combat the use of torture and other ill-treatment;
  • To allow the free movement of all citizens and refrain from punishing those who returned or were voluntarily returned to the DPRK from abroad; To provide families of those abducted with full information about their fate and whereabouts;
  • To end restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and related rights; To allow the establishment of independent newspapers and other media;  To allow citizens of the DPRK to access the Internet and the international media;
  • To end discrimination based on the “songbun” system as well as discrimination against women;  To enact legislation to combat violence against women; To end the practice of forced abortions; To take concrete measures to improve health care for women to further decrease maternal mortality;
  • To take additional measures for the participation of women in political life;
  • To ensure the access to food; To work closely with humanitarian agencies to ensure aid was distributed transparently; To ensure that the government policy on access to food, healthcare and health services was free of discrimination and political considerations; To allocate adequate resources to ensure the protection of the rights to food, health, water and sanitation; To abolish the practice of forced labour; To consider joining the ILO;
  • To establish a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the CAT, the CRPD, the Rome Statute of the ICC, the CRMW, the CED, the CERD, the OP to the ICESCR and the three OPs to the CRC.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 6 May 2014

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

Media contacts: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org
                             Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org

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