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DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA: Human Rights Coalition Praises Start of UN Commission of Inquiry on North Korea, Calls for Cooperation with Commission

26 Aug 2013
Topic: International human rights law

The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) said today that it has high expectations for the work of United Nations Commission of Inquiry on North Korea, which starts hearing testimony on August 29th in Tokyo, and called for all persons with information relevant to the Commission’s mandate to cooperate with the Commission.

The 42 human rights groups which comprise ICNK, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Federation Internationale des Droits de l’Homme and Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said the work of the UN Commission should shed new light on the human rights violations perpetrated by the Pyongyang government against the North Korean people.

Riyo Yoshioka, acting Japan director at Human Rights Watch, a member of the ICNK, said today, “As the UN Commission of Inquiry begins taking testimony in Tokyo, the ICNK will press forward with its campaign to demand the North Korea government respect human rights. ICNK member groups have amassed ample evidence of abuses committed by the Pyongyang government -- including abductions of Japanese and other citizens of countries from around the world, mass imprisonment for political offenses, starvation of prison camp populations,, torture and executions. We expect that the Commission will uncover significant evidence of these and other violations which we believe constitute crimes against humanity.”
Welcoming the start of the Commission’s work, the Yoshioka further stated, “The human rights situation in North Korea remains dire. Abuses are so widespread, severe and systematic that a former UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reported that the human rights situation is “sui generis”, standing in a category of its own. In North Korea, the reality is human rights are denied as a routine matter.”

ICNK anticipates that the findings of the UN Commission will provide the most definitive and authoritative account to date of human rights conditions in North Korea. As such, its conclusions and recommendations should spur renewed worldwide commitment to act to protect the human rights of the North Korean people.
ICNK is seriously disappointed by the refusal to cooperate by the North Korean government with the Commission.  Leaders in Pyongyang should reconsider and extend an invitation to the Commission to visit North Korea, and offer full cooperation with the Commission.  The ICNK maintains that Commission’s work should persuade the North Korean government that a complete change of policy to start respecting human rights is essential to restore its standing among the nations of the world.

ICNK expects that the investigations and hearings that the UN Commission will conduct in Tokyo will provide a singular opportunity for the voices of the victims of human rights abuses to be heard more loudly and clearly than they have ever been. These victims of rights abuses, and the millions like them inside North Korea, deserve a full accounting of the crimes committed against them and for those responsible to be held to account.

“For far too long, the families of abductees – not just from Japan, but also from South Korea, Thailand, and other countries around the world – have waited in vain for the return of their loved ones,” said Hiroshi Kato, Representative at Life Funds for North Korean Refugees. “The efforts of the Commission of Inquiry to fully investigate all the rights crimes committed by North Korea finally offer some hope to these families who have been seeking answers for decades.”

For immediate release
Tokyo, August 26, 2013


The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea is a joint effort of over 40 human rights groups worldwide that seeks to protect the human rights of North Koreans and to hold the Pyongyang government accountable for its abuses and violations of the human rights of the North Korean people.

For further information please contact:

In Tokyo:

  • Riyo Yoshioka for Human Rights Watch (Japanese,English)
    +81-3-5575-3774; yoshior@hrw.org
  • Hiroshi Kato and Hiroaki Saeki for Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (Japanese)
    +81-3-3815-8127; nkkikin@hotmail.com
  • Ken Kato for Human Rights in Asia (Japanese, English)
    +81-90-8961-7376; kaiten@triton.ocn.ne.jp
  • Tomoyuki Kawazoe for Kanagawa Association for The Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (Japanese)
    +81-90-9816-2187; tomoyuki.kawazoe@gmail.com
  • Hideki Wakabayashi for Amnesty International Japan (Japanese, English)
    +81-3-3518-6777; info@amnesty.or.jp
  • Yoon Bok Song for NO FENCE (Japanese, Korean)
    +81-3-3262-7473; songyb777@yahoo.co.jp

In Bangkok

  • Phil Robertson for Human Rights Watch (English, Thai)
    +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); robertp@hrw.org

Members and supporters of the Coalition include:

- Advocates International Global Council
- Amnesty International
- Asia Justice and Rights
- Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
- Asian Human Rights & Humanity Association of Japan
- Burma Partnership (Thailand)
- Christian Lawyers Association for Paraguay
- Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (USA)
- Conectas (Brazil)
- Council for Human Rights in North Korea (Canada)
- Freedom House (USA)
- Free NK Gulag (ROK)
- Free North Korea Radio (ROK)
- Han Voice (Canada)
- HH Katacombs (ROK)
- Human Rights Watch
- Human Rights Without Frontiers (Belgium)
- Inter-American Federation of Christian Lawyers
- International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
- COMJAN (Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea)(Japan)
- Japanese Lawyers Association for Abduction and Other Human Rights Issues in North Korea
- Jubilee Campaign (USA)
- Justice for North Korea (ROK)
- Kontras (Indonesia)
- Liberty in North Korea - LiNK (USA)
- Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (Japan)
- Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (ROK)
- NK Intellectual Solidarity (ROK)
- No Fence (Japan)
- North Korea Freedom Coalition
- Odhikar (Bangladesh)
- Open North Korea (ROK)
- People In Need (Czech Republic)
- PSALT NK (Prayer Service Action Love Truth for North Korea)
- The Simon Wiesenthal Center (USA)
- The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea (Japan)
- Students Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (ROK)
- World Without Genocide (USA)
- Young Defectors' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (ROK)
- Yuki Akimoto, Burmainfo (Japan)
- Tomoharu Ebihara
- David Hawk, Visiting Scholar, Columbia University, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and author of Hidden Gulag
- Ken Kato, Director, Human Rights in Asia (Japan)
- Tomoyuki Kawazoe, Representative, Kanagawa Association for The Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea / Member, Reporters Without Borders
- Suzanne Scholte, Seoul Peace Prize Recipient & Defense Forum Foundation (USA)
- Dr. Norbert Vollertsen


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