We cannot forget about human rights violations in North Korea
The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world, writes Fiona Bruce MP. | PA Images
Sexual violence, enslavement, enforced disappearance, and political persecution are reportedly commonplace in North Korean political prisons. The APPG on North Korea has launched an Inquiry into human rights violations in the country.
Some activities sadly don’t stop in a pandemic. Severe human rights violations have continued apace, perhaps even more so under the cover of Covid-19. Atrocities perpetrated in Iraq, Syria, Myanmar, Nigeria, China, and elsewhere have rightly generated attention. However, North Korea suffers from some of the worst abuses of human rights and the least attention.
In 2014, North Korea was in the sights of the UN Human Rights Council when it established a Commission of Inquiry led by prominent Australian Jurist, Justice Michael Kirby – an Inquiry which the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, alongside others in the international community, called for. That Commission concluded that, ‘systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been, and are being, committed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, its institutions and officials. In many instances, the violations of human rights found by the Commission constitute crimes against humanity…The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.’
In view of the severity of these atrocities, the Commission of Inquiry recommended that those most responsible for the acts should be brought to account. These steps have not been taken and the atrocities remain unaddressed. The subsequent years have seen only further crimes.
In 2016, I raised the issue of the state-sanctioned violence against women and girls in North Korea, in the House of Commons. Those violations include sexual violence; exploitation; rape; forced abortion; human trafficking; institutional, economic and psychological violence; slavery; and torture, even until death. Further evidence points to acts of murder in North Korean political prisons through the use of torture, appalling conditions and executions. Sexual violence, forced abortion, rape and other inhuman acts are reportedly commonplace in the political prison camps, alongside enslavement, enforced disappearance, and political persecution.
At this time when the shadow of human rights abuses in North Korea has become even darker, our aim is to shine a Parliamentary light
In light of this dreadful situation, the APPG on North Korea has launched an Inquiry into human rights violations in the country between 2014 and 2020, namely, developments since the UN Commission of Inquiry report of 2014. The Inquiry will map the recent human rights violations in North Korea since the launch of the 2014 UN report, and identify recommendations for the UK government on how to engage on the issue. Click here for more information.
At this time when the shadow of human rights abuses in North Korea has become even darker, our aim is to shine a Parliamentary light. We also wish to spotlight the urgent need for the UK, and other states, who have a responsibility to take all available measures to prevent violations of international law, to suppress the ongoing violations and to work towards bringing those responsible to justice. However difficult our own challenges at this time, we cannot forget about human rights violations in North Korea.
Fiona Bruce is the Conservative MP for Congleton.