ISHR-Statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council

ISHR Delivers a Statement “Abuses That Female Repatriates Face in the DPRK” at the United Nations Human Rights Council

Frankfurt am Main/Geneva, 9 March 2020 – At the 43rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, ISHR presented a statement on the human rights abuses against North Korean refugees with a particular focus on sexual violence against North Korean women repatriates, thereby exercising its consultative status granted by the United Nations for the first time.

The special session titled “Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” took part on March 9th, 2020. Tomas Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK; North Korea), started the session by presenting an overview of recent changes in the human rights and women’s rights situation in the DPRK.

Mr. Quintana reported that the overall human rights and women’s rights situations have not improved, nor has the justice system made any progress to effectively locate and hold the human rights violators accountable to the rule of law. Moreover, victims of human rights abuses do not receive support services or protection from the state.

The country delegates followed up by presenting their concerns and remarks on the gravity of human rights violations. Many country delegates participated from all over the world in the session, but North Korean delegate was absent, on which Mr. Quintana elaborated by mentioning that the North Korean delegate has not attended the session for several years.

The inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations were then given the opportunity to present their statements.

ISHR, represented by Dooyoung Kim, presented a statement “Abuses That Female Repatriates Face in the DPRK” which points out the abuses that are inflicted upon North Korean refugees once they are forcibly repatriated to North Korea. Below is the key point of the statement.

“Upon their forced return, majority of North Korean repatriates are put into political camps or re-education camps where they are often tortured and executed. Women constitute more than 70 percent of North Korean repatriates, and they are acutely vulnerable to human rights violations in the camps, as they more more susceptible to sexual violence. They are sexually assaulted, go through invasive body cavity searches, and forced to undergo abortions.”

The session finished with Mr. Quintana’s concluding remarks that establishing stronger engagement and cooperation between the international community and the DPRK is the integral approach to protect the human rights and women’s rights in the DPRK.

Through this event, ISHR successfully addressed the human rights abuses against North Korean people and demonstrated the importance of active involvement of NGOs in generating greater awareness and advances in human rights.