An international organization of more than 40 human rights groups around the world on Tuesday urged the U.N. Human Rights Council to address the issue of North Korean prison camps.
The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea, or ICNK, submitted a petition to call on the U.N. to carry out an investigation and report on the gulags.
“The U.N. used a similar procedure to investigate the situation of U.S. detainees at Guantanamo Bay,” human rights lawyer Jared Genser, former attorney for Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, said during a press conference.
He said the North holds as many as 200,000 people in prison camps where prisoners, including children, undergo intensive labor including logging, mining and farming. More than 400,000 of the camp prisoners have died over the past few decades, he said.
“The time is ripe for this approach because for too long North Korea has not only denied any wrongdoing, it has also continued to ignore and repeatedly reject recommendations by the international community to take action,” he said.
The petition calls on the U.N. to outline the size and scope of prison camps in North Korea, work with the North Korean government to hold perpetrators accountable and to take additional actions with other U.N. organs to address the issue together.
Separately, Gensen has submitted an independent petition on behalf of prison camp survivors Kang Chol-hwan and Shin Dong-hyuk to the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to help them find their family members who remain in prison camps in North Korea.
By Kim Yoon-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)