02 November 2012UK Intervention at the Interactive Dialogue with Marzuki Darusman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Mr Darusman, thank you for your report and presentation today.
The UK supports the EU statement and has the following additional comments.
Your report highlights the ongoing failure of the DPRK government to align itself with international human rights instruments and democratic norms.
One of the critical issues you have highlighted is the complete failure of the state to provide for the basic nutritional needs of all its people.
This problem is exacerbated by the government’s egregious ‘songbun’ policy – which, you rightly point out, results in unequal access to food, housing, medical care, education and employment opportunities. The DPRK government should immediately end such discriminatory practice. It should also, as you point out, reverse its ‘military first, second and third’ policy; and instead place the welfare of its people first, second and third.
The UK supports your analysis of DPRK’s ‘criminal code’ which, as you say, falls far short of international standards and is easily abused by the state. In particular, the rights of ordinary citizens to freedom of opinion and expression. You also highlight the criminalisation of people crossing the national borders, which we believe infringes rights to freedom of movement.
On this issue, your report rightly focuses on the problem of people fleeing the DPRK. The British government fully agrees with you in commending the Thai authorities for adhering to the principle of non-refoulement and we support your call on other states to do likewise.
We ask you, what more can the international community do to help with the issue of non-refoulement?
Lastly, the UK calls on the DPRK government to engage with international human rights mechanisms on the status of over 150,000 citizens imprisoned for alleged ‘political crimes’. Individual testimonies point to grave violations being committed against these prisoners.
We ask you, how can the international community best respond to the issue of these prison camps?