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The human rights situation under President Kim Jong-Un in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has remained dire due to the government’s unwillingness to yield to the recommendations by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry writing on a similar theme (United Nations Human Rights: Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 2013).
The oligarchy that characterizes the rule in the war-ravaged country has systematically denied the citizens of North Korea their basic freedoms and nourishments. The government of the day does not tolerate pluralism and divergent opinions, which are the hallmark of any society.
Today, the world fears that if this situation persists, then North Korean will continue to sink under humanitarian crisis that might spill over to other parts of the world (World Report 2015: North Korea 2015). A Commission of Inquiry chaired by retired Australian judge Michael Kirby, deliberated on the North Korean crises and found that the government of North Korea is responsible for systematic human right violations at a scale unprecedented in history of human conflicts.
The North Korean crises
Among the atrocities committed against humanity includes mass execution, forced evictions, sectarian violence, enslavement, torture, forced labor, and rape of both women and children. While the North Korea government previously consented to key international human rights treaties, Green, Cha, and Johnson (2013) note that the government of President Kim Jong-Un is yet ratify these treaties in rights protections pact.
However, as things stand now, the government of North Korea leads in the league of the repressing nations in the world. Today, political and civil rights activism is nonexistent in North Korea since the government strictly prohibits any form of political and social activities in the region.
According to United Nations Human Rights: Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (2013), the civil society organizations and even trade unions died long time ago owing to the regimes high handedness on public participation. The independent media and religious freedoms mainly have systematically put out their existence, as these are viewed proponents of change.
The citizens as observed Green, Cha, and Johnson (2013) are withdrawn as they face severe consequences for being in possession of uncensored literature material from foreign media and other media platforms within and outside North Korea. The government views the citizens who seek to assert their rights as being defiant to the supreme leader Kim Jong-Un and his ruling elite (United Nations Human Rights: Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 2013).
Individuals who hold contrary opinion to the established rule face arbitrary arrest, torture, and detention without trial. As the World must act on North Korea rights abuse, says UN report (2014) notes, President Kim Jong-Un regime is a terror squad that effectively enslaves the citizens, including women and children in concentrated camps and other detention facilities with deplorable conditions that end their lives indiscriminately.
According to Ji (2011), the right to freedom of life is a choice that rests with the ruling elite (p. 54). There is total collapse of social order and the rule of law in President Kim Jong-Un reign of terror. Responding to these increased humanitarian concerns, the United Nation’s Human Rights Council presented their findings to the Secretary-General to consider many options, including:
- Reaching out to the current regime to reform the justice system and to consider abolishing the vaguely worded dictum “anti-state” to those holding a divergent opinion, this will enhance a judicious trial procedure for suspects
- There should be a rigorous reform agenda: Such reforms, as United Nations Human Rights: Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (2013) notes, should outsource the contributions of an independent and impartial judiciary to overhaul the country’s judicial structure. There is need to forge ties with the Korean government to make the regime see the sense of introducing multiparty political system that would usher-in elected representatives of the people in a free and fair democratic elections.
- There is urgent need to reform the security structure of North Korea by instituting a rigorous vetting process within the military and police forces.
- The nation should adopt an independent boundaries, election, and constitutional reform team assisted by expatriates to guide the process of constitutionalism
- There is a need to consider sanctions for non-commitment on the above recommendations (World Report 2015: North Korea 2015)
For your consideration(s), the present briefing advances both the advantages and the disadvantages of the options and recommendations regarding the ongoing Human Rights violation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)
Options for consideration
- Declare and implement effective process that would ensure cessation hostilities in North Korea. There is need to renounce the orders of shoot to kill, arbitrary detention, execution, imprisonment and torture in cases of individuals perceived to be enemies of state
- Abolish the arbitrary prohibition on foreign travel imposed on ordinary citizens that seek political asylum in other countries. There is urgent need introduce border regulations that conform to the international standards to decriminalize illegal border crossings by ordinary citizens
- Institute a prosecution mechanism against persons who bear the greatest blame for crimes against humanity in North Korea. There is a need to appoint a special tribunal to bring to justice all the perpetrators of crimes against humanity in North Korea to sound a warning to bad governance in North Korea and elsewhere. There is need to effectively give reparation and remedies to families and populations subdued by the unjust systems.
- There is urgent need to take immediate steps to terminate all other human rights violations in North Korea to give hope to the populations living in the region (Bennett 2013, p. 18). Address the human rights concerns that the commission raised in the present report, including the capacity to revisit those mentioned in the successive resolutions of the General Assembly. Where possible, the Chair should seek international guidance and support from the Security Council to stem provisional justice procedures in the region.
- Refer the matter to the ICC and declare sanctions whenever all or key options fail. The Security Council has within its mandate to refer the situation in the region to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as per the Rome Statute (Senguptadec 2014). The Security Council has a mandate to adopt sanctions against the government of North Korea to deprive it of international community’s rapport until it yields to the commission’s recommendations.
- In the light of the anticipated social-economic consequences to the civil community, the commission must not support sanctions. The effects of imposing sanctions, according to Manyin and Nikitin (2014), would trickle down to the general populations already deprived of their livelihood in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (p. 14).
- United Nations General Assembly has within its mandate to step-up North Korea’s human rights monitoring watch and reporting mechanisms to focus on ensuring accountability in the concept of governance, especially in areas that concerns crimes against humanity. Moreover, the reports arrived at should be effective on the implementation to bring about rapid normalcy in the region.
Bennett, B. 2013, Preparing for the Possibility of a North Korean Collapse, Rand Corporation, Washington DC.
Green, M., Cha, V. & Johnson, C. 2013, How to stop the North Korea madness. Web.
Ji, Y. 2011, ‘Multilateral Solution for North Korean Refugee Settlement What American Policymakers Can Learn from the Indochinese Refugee Crisis’, Journal of International Law and International Relations, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 53-82.
Manyin, N., & Nikitin, M. 2014, Congressional Research Service: Foreign Assistance to North Korea. Web.
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Senguptadec, S. 2014, United Nations Security Council Examines North Korea’s Human Rights. Web.
United Nations Human Rights: Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, 2013. Web.
World Report 2015: North Korea, 2015. Web.