Christian Solidarity Worldwide yesterday launched a new report, seven years in the making, which concluded that there is a prima facie case that the DPRK regime is guilty of crimes against humanity. The report has had input from lawyers familiar with the international human rights regime and is based, inter alia, on interviews with 80 North Koreans in three continents – including both prison camp guards and their former prisoners.
The report was launched yesterday at a breakfast meeting at London’s Foreign Press Association, and then made its way to the Houses of Parliament where the report was highlighted as part of an evidence session following the annual general meeting of the All-party British-North Korea Parliamentary Group. Two North Korean defectors told their story: Ahn Myeon-cheol, a former prison camp guard at camp number 22 who had to make his escape when his well-connected father committed suicide following some indiscrete criticisms of the regime; and Shin Dong-hyok, a former prisoner who was actually born inside camp number 14. Both had moving stories to tell, and the scene seemed vaguely incongruous as they sat dwarfed beneath the massive biblical oil painting in the neo-gothic splendour of the Moses Room in the House of Lords. In the afternoon the two defectors went on to meet Conservative Party leader David Cameron.
In the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 7, a crime against humanity is defined as any of 11 crimes. The report accuses the DPRK of 9 of those crimes: murder, extermination, enslavement, forcible transfer of population, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance, and other inhumane acts. The report also finds evidence of a 10th crime, rape and sexual violence, but no systematic policy of committing it. The only crime of which the report finds the regime innocent is apartheid. The report also examines evidence for genocide in relation to Christians.
The report is published in the week leading up 25 June – the anniversary of the start of the Korean War – which has been designated a day of prayer for North Korea.