Egregious Human Rights Abuses Continue in North Korea

Nov 5, 2017

Some of the worst human rights abuses in the world are perpetrated by the government and officials of North Korea, also referred to as DPRK. That is the conclusion reached by the State Department's third report detailing serious human rights abuses in North Korea. The report also identifies some of the most serious abusers.

“Like the two prior reports, this report shines a spotlight on serious human rights abuses committed by the DPRK regime, including extrajudicial killings, forced labor, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, as well as rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Scott Busby:

“In particular, this report focuses on the many human rights abuses that underwrite the regime's weapons program, including forced labor, re-education through labor camps, and overseas labor contracts. Thousands of North Koreans are sent abroad every year to work in slave-like conditions, earning revenue for the regime. The government also deploys security officials abroad to monitor the activities of North Korean citizens and to forcibly repatriate individuals who seek asylum.”

North Korean workers overseas are subjected to 12-16 hour workdays with only one or two rest days a month. Overseas workers have no choice in the work they perform. Their wages and passports are typically withheld, and workers face threats of reprisals against them or their relatives if they attempt to escape or complain to outside parties.

The report identified seven individuals and three entities as responsible for serious human rights abuses against North Korean citizens, both inside the DPRK and abroad. For that reason, the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury imposed economic sanctions on them. This means that all assets of these individuals and companies that are under the jurisdiction of the United States or in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

“With these efforts,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Busby, “we aim to send a signal to all DPRK Government officials, particularly prison camp managers and mid-level officials, that we can and we will expose human rights abuses and censorship in the DPRK and that these individuals will suffer consequences for such actions.”