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Annual Report of Human Rights Watch

Posted January. 14, 2005 22:50,   


Human Rights Watch, an international human rights group, said in its annual report for 2005 released on January 13 that North Korea is “routinely violating almost all international human rights standards.” This report describes the human rights situation in some 60 countries worldwide. South Korea was not included.

North Korea-

The annual report said, “Some repatriated North Korean defectors are tortured. Those who defect and repatriate more than twice, or contact South Koreans or Westerners in China, especially missionaries, are faced with severe punishment including sentences in labor concentration camps.”

It also said, “In the mid 1990s, at the time of great food shortages, North Korea revised its criminal laws so that it could sentence food thieves to death,” and added, “A large number of North Korean defectors actually witnessed public executions that were held in market places.”

The report added, “North Korean authorities tied up the TV and radio channels so that it could transmit only state channels, but some North Koreans watch Chinese channels, risking punishment,” and also, “The news that is gained spreads by word of mouth, which helps North Koreans understand the outside world better.”

The report estimated that the number of political prisoners in North Korea amounts to 200,000, the death toll during the great famine in the 1990s is up to two million, and the number of those who defected the country by either political or economic reasons amounts to hundreds of thousands.

Representing the report at a press conference held in Washington, Executive Director of the Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth urged China to take the situation of North Korean defectors into account and to embark on humanitarian aid for them to settle instead of forcing repatriation.

The U.S. Criticized-

Regarding human rights abuse committed by the U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, the report said that the U.S. “offended international laws and exacerbated the international human rights condition.”

The report also added, “Its abuse of prisoners damaged the world’s trust for the country who is leading worldwide human rights movements and the war on terrorism,” and, “The U.S. is no longer able to claim its role as a human rights protector in the international community.”

In addition, the report expressed serious concern over the ethnic massacre at Darfur in Sudan, and called on the U.N. and responsible governments and organizations to send troops to the region.

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com