Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

UPR 33, May 9, 2019
Recommendations by Canada

Background

According to UPR Info, a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) that tracks the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, in the first two cycles of the UPR, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea received 436 recommendations, of which 114 were supported (a rate of 26%). Canada’s previous recommendations to the DPRK were related to violence against women, to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief, and to closing political prison camps. To date, the DPRK has accepted only one of Canada’s recommendations.

The situation of human rights in the DPRK is particularly grave, and Canada remains deeply concerned by accounts of systematic human rights abuses. In his most recent report, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK highlighted the continued existence of political prison camps, torture and ill-treatment in detention facilities, discrimination and inequality based on the Songbun (caste) system, and surveillance and close monitoring of citizens, as well as other severe restrictions on basic freedoms.

Similarly, Amnesty International’s 2017/2018 report estimates that up to 120,000 people continue to be arbitrarily detained in political prison camps where they are subject to torture and ill-treatment. Freedom House characterizes North Korea’s Freedom Status as “Not Free”, and refers to pervasive surveillance, arbitrary arrest and detention, and a system of political prison camps where torture, starvation, and forced labour take place.

Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, describes North Korea as among the world’s most repressive countries, and also notes women suffer a range of sexual and gender-based abuses in addition to violations of their rights common to the rest of the population. These concerns are echoed by both Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights and Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, based in South Korea, as they report on frequent cases of abuse and sexual violence against women in detention. They also note a lack of state measures to address persistent discriminatory practices and women’s rights issues in North Korea, including the lack of support for women and children victims of domestic violence.

Recommendations

Thank you, Mr. President.

Canada is deeply concerned by the situation of human rights in the DPRK.
Canada recommends that the DPRK:

  1. Fully cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council and accept a visit of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK.
  2. Implement its obligations under the human rights instruments to which it is party, and cease the use of arbitrary detention, political prison camps, and collective punishment.
  3. Remove from state legislation all provisions punishing free speech, freedom of association and assembly, or freedom of political participation.
  4. Cease the censorship of foreign and domestic media and permit the establishment of an independent press.

Greater access for UN mechanisms is vital to investigate human rights violations and to ensure the DPRK’s compliance with its international human rights obligations.

Advance Question – submitted 4/24/2019

The DPRK has accepted Canada’s recommendation to “Guarantee freedom of thought, conscience and religion to all individuals by ensuring the basic rights to freedom of assembly and association”. What steps has the DPRK taken to implement this recommendation?

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