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UN experts urge North Korea to repatriate 11 abducted from plane hijack 50 years ago

13 February 2020

Korean version  / 아래 한국어 첨부

GENEVA (13 February 2020) - UN human rights experts* urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to repatriate 11 individuals who were forcibly disappeared 50 years ago after their domestic flight in the Republic of Korea was hijacked.

Korean Air Lines flight YS-11, with 51 people on board, was hijacked on 11 December 1969 and forced to land in the DPRK. Thirty-nine were released on 14 February 1970, but the fate and whereabouts of the remaining 11 passengers and crew is still unknown.

“This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the release of 39 of those on board. It is entirely unacceptable that the families of the remaining 11 individuals have waited 50 long years in limbo with no information about their loved ones,” said the experts.

“We call on the DPRK to urgently provide information about their fate and whereabouts and to allow them to freely communicate with their relatives.”

The experts also expressed concern over allegations that some of the individuals had faced torture and ill-treatment during their disappearance.

“To date no independent investigations have been conducted into the hijacking, disappearance or alleged torture, as required by the DPRK’s international obligations,” they added.

The Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances has 275 outstanding cases of enforced disappearances in the DPRK registered in its database. It has previously called for the Security Council to consider referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.

In 2014, a Commission of Inquiry found that the DPRK authorities had committed crimes against humanity against victims of international abduction and other persons denied repatriation.

“It is high time that the DPRK start genuine cooperation to clarify the fate and whereabouts of these 11 individuals as well as all the other disappearances cases,” the experts said.

The experts have written to the Government of the DPRK to raise their concerns about the issue.


*The UN experts: Members of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances - Mr. Luciano Hazan (Chair), Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Vice Chair), Mr. Bernard DuhaimeMs. Houria Es-Slami, and Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius; Mr. Nils MelzerSpecial Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and Mr. Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For further inquiries and media requests please contact: Gabriela Guzman (+41 22 928 9452 / [email protected])

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: The Media Unit (+ 41 22 928 9855 / [email protected])
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