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More than 30 executed in N.K. last year: Amnesty

More than 30 people in North Korea were executed last year, international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, reported Tuesday.

According to its annual report on capital punishment execution around the world, at least 30 people received the death penalty and were killed, ranking sixth among the list.

“In January 2011 unconfirmed reports suggested that more than 200 officials had been detained by the State Security Agency in a move to consolidate the leadership succession of Kim Jong-un, raising concerns that some of them had been executed. In July 2011, we received unconfirmed reports that North Korean authorities had either executed by firing squad or killed in staged traffic accidents 30 officials who had participated in inter-Korean talks or supervised bilateral dialogues with South Korea.

“Public executions, including within political prison camps, are believed to have taken place throughout the year. Public executions are a breach of North Korea’s own penal code. We believe that a high number of extra-judicial executions are taking place in the country,” it said.

Amnesty also said that the figure appears to be a gross underestimate of the reality since no trials in the secluded country meet international standards of fairness and due process, given the lack of independence of the judiciary and several problematic constitutional and legal provisions.

The watchdog’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions sent a message to the government of North Korea regarding 37 reported cases of executions for economic crimes between 2007 and 2010.

Meanwhile, Amnesty said the number of countries practicing death penalty have reduced by one-third to only 20 from 198 countries in the world.

South Korea, which marked 5,000 execution-free days as of Sept. 8, confirmed its status as a de facto death penalty-free state.

“But 60 people were on death row with their death sentences finalized at the end of the year and one new death sentence was known to have been imposed in 2011,” the group said.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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