Amnesty International Report 2006 - North Korea
|Publication Date||23 May 2006|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - North Korea, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7b52f.html [accessed 22 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Fundamental rights including freedom of expression, association and movement continued to be denied. There were reports of public executions, widespread political imprisonment, torture and ill-treatment. Access by independent monitors continued to be restricted.
In March, North Korea declared itself a nuclear power. In September, the fourth round of six-party talks in Beijing (involving North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the USA) reached a breakthrough accord in which North Korea pledged to abandon its nuclear programmes in exchange for aid and security assurances. However, there was no further progress on implementing the agreement.
In April the UN Commission on Human Rights expressed concern about the human rights situation in North Korea, the third such resolution in three years.
In November, for the first time, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution expressing concern about the human rights situation in North Korea.
In August, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) reported that there was evidence of torture, detention without trial, public executions and capital punishment for political dissidents.
In July, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considered North Korea's initial periodic report. The Committee expressed concern about the government's lack of awareness of the extent of domestic violence, the absence of legislation to deal with violence against women, including domestic violence, and the lack of prevention and protection measures for victims. The Committee also expressed concern that the government had not given sufficient information on the impact of the famine and natural disasters on women and young girls. The Committee was concerned that in such circumstances, they might become vulnerable to trafficking and other forms of exploitation, such as prostitution.
Denial of access
Information and access continued to be highly controlled. Despite repeated requests, the government continued to deny access to independent human rights monitors including the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate food.
There were renewed reports of executions of political opponents in political prisons, and of executions of people charged with economic crimes, such as stealing food. Unconfirmed reports suggested that people operating underground churches had been executed.
- In February, there were unconfirmed reports that about 70 North Korean defectors had been executed in public in January after being forcibly repatriated from China.
- Video footage emerged showing two people being shot in a public execution. The execution reportedly took place on 1 March in Hoeryang, a north-eastern city, after a public trial of 11 people charged with trafficking in people and aiding unauthorized visits to China. The footage also showed an execution which reportedly took place on 2 March in the nearby city of Yuson.
Torture and ill-treatment
Hundreds of North Koreans forcibly returned from China faced detention, torture or ill-treatment, and up to three years' imprisonment in appalling conditions.
Prisoners reportedly died from malnutrition in labour camps for political prisoners and in detention centres, which were severely overcrowded. Prisoners charged with breaking prison rules had their food cut even further.
Women in detention
Women detainees continued to be subjected to degrading prison conditions. Prisons lacked basic facilities for women's needs. There were unconfirmed reports that pregnant women detainees were forced to undergo abortions after being forcibly returned from China. Women detainees stated that during pre-trial detention male guards humiliated them and touched them inappropriately. Women who attempted to protest were reportedly beaten. All women, including those who were pregnant or elderly, were forced to work from early morning to late at night in fields or prison factories.
Freedom of expression
Severe restrictions on freedom of expression and association persisted.
- In July, 64-year-old Moon Sung-Jun was reportedly arrested on suspicion of leading an underground church in Shinuiju, North Pyongan province. At least 80 local residents, including eight of Moon Sung-Jun's siblings were reportedly detained and questioned on suspicion of attending the church.
North Koreans in Asia
Hundreds of North Koreans were forcibly returned by the Chinese authorities to North Korea. Many tried to enter foreign-run schools in Beijing and foreign diplomatic missions to seek permission to leave China. At the end of 2005, more than 100 were awaiting decisions in diplomatic missions.
North Korean women in China were reportedly exploited sexually, including through forced marriages and trafficking into the sex industry. The authorities in Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia reportedly increased forcible repatriations of North Korean refugees who were attempting to reach South Korea.
People assisting North Koreans in China were targeted by the North Korean authorities.
- In March, Kang Gun, who had settled in South Korea, was reportedly abducted by North Korean agents from Longjing in Jilin province in China, where he was helping North Koreans who had fled to China as a result of the food crisis. He was apparently held in a National Security Agency prison in Pyongyang.
The right to food
A national nutrition survey conducted by the government, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) was published in March. It found that 7 per cent of children were severely malnourished; 37 per cent were chronically malnourished; 23.4 per cent were underweight; and one in three mothers was malnourished and anaemic. The study found that the plight of the most vulnerable had been aggravated by an economic adjustment process initiated in mid-2002 that led to steep increases in the market prices of basic foods, and sharply lower incomes for millions of factory workers made redundant or employed part-time. Market prices of cereals, which tripled in 2004, continued to rise.
In September the government called for more development aid and an end to humanitarian aid, citing good agricultural harvests in 2005. It also called for WFP monitors to be expelled, raising concerns about the monitoring of food aid. Reports in September suggested that up to half of bilateral food aid supplied by China and South Korea did not reach the intended recipients.
At the government's request, the WFP shut down five regional offices and 19 food factories in North Korea in December.