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Ignoring human rights is not an option for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

SEOUL / GENEVA (28 November 2011) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Marzuki Darusman urged the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to cooperate with the UN human rights system and start implementing some of their recommendations, in order to put an end to rights violations of the people of DPRK.

“The DPRK is perhaps the only country today that does not recognize that non-cooperation with the human rights mechanism is not an option,” stressed the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the situation of human rights in the country.

“I urge the Government of the DPRK to overhaul the prison system, the criminal justice system and related detention policies in camps, which give rise to plethora of abuses, including torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” Mr. Darusman said the end of an official five-day visit to the Republic of Korea (RoK) to gather information on the alleged human rights violations in the North.

The Special Raporteur noted that the imposition of harsh and inhumane punishments, such as death penalty and correction by hard labour, continues in the DPRK. “Most of the asylum seekers I interacted with had undergone harsh punishments in the forced labour camps and had either witnessed or heard of torture being implemented on other inmates,” he said.

“There has been a steady increase in the number of persons the DPRK seeking refuge in the RoK, with a 17% rise from last year,” the expert noted. “There are 23,720 of them sheltered in the RoK. Of these arrivals, around 75% are women, which has been more or less the case for the last 5 to 6 years.”

“Some asylum seekers manage to finally make their way to the RoK, but numerous others are forcibly refouled or returned to the DPRK by the neighbouring countries,” Mr. Darusman said recalling that during this mission, a number of NGOs and diplomats raised serious concerns on such practice. “While commending the RoK for integration of asylum-seekers from the DPRK, I call on other neighbouring countries to protect and treat all people fleeing the DPRK humanely and respect the principle of non-refoulment.”

The Special Raporteur also stressed the need for the revival of effective humanitarian assistance by the RoK and the international community to the people of the DPRK. “Provisions of such humanitarian aid, including food and medicine, while subject to ‘no access, no aid’, should not be made contingent upon any political requirements,” he said.

“While I recognize that the primary obligation to feed its people is that of the state, I seize this opportunity to call on both, the RoK and the international community to commence the provision of more humanitarian assistance, in particular food and supplementary nutrition for vulnerable group, such as children and women,” Mr. Darusman urged.

Since his appointment in August 2010, the Special Rapporteur has made several requests to visit DPRK, which has so far not been honoured. In absence of cooperation from DPRK, the Special Rapporteur has been visiting other countries in the region such as RoK, Japan and Thailand.

Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia) was designated Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in August 2010 by the UN Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organisation and serves in his individual capacity. He is a member of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons, and has served in various capacities at the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission. Mr. Darusman is a Law graduate from the Catholic University of Parahyangan Bandung, Indonesia.

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11645&LangID=E

UN Human Rights, country page – DPRK: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/KPIndex.aspx

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/kp/mandate/index.htm

For additional information and media enquiries, please contact Ajith Sunghay (Tel: +41 22 928 9353 / email: asunghay@ohchr.org) or write to hr-dprk@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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