Prisoners Treated Inhumanely in North Korea

Torture, humiliation and forced labour are commonplace in prisons in North Korea, Human Rights Watch notes.


The human rights organization has, for the first time, investigated the situation in prisons in the closed communist country. She notes that inmates are treated as ‘less than an animal’.

For the investigation, former government officials who fled and ex-convicts were interviewed about the situation since the appointment of political leader Kim Jong-un in 2011.

“The justice system in North Korea is arbitrary, violent, cruel and degrading,” said Brad Adams of the organization. For example, detainees do not know what will happen to them, they do not have access to a lawyer, and they cannot report, for example, assault to any authority.

The ex-prisoners described the cells as unsanitary and told how there was a shortage of everything.

There was little food, insufficient floor space to sleep, no access to showers and hardly any soap, clothing and blankets. The inmates said that guards tortured them and even raped women.

Human Rights Watch is demanding from the North Korean government to end “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” of the detainees.

Basic facilities need to be improved. The organization also wants the government to allow Red Cross delegates and United Nations human rights supervisors to enter the prisons.

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