Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014 Democratic People's Republic of Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) is an authoritarian state led by the Kim family for more than 60 years. In late 2011 Kim Jong Un was named marshal of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army. Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, the late Kim Il Sung, remains “eternal president.” The most recent national elections, held in March, were neither free nor fair. Authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
Citizens did not have the ability to change their government. The government subjected citizens to rigid controls over many aspects of their lives, including denial of the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, movement, and worker rights. Reports continued of a vast network of political prison camps in which conditions were often harsh, life threatening, and included forced and compulsory labor.
Defectors continued to report extrajudicial killings, disappearances, arbitrary detention, arrests of political prisoners, and torture. The judiciary was not independent and did not provide fair trials. Reports continued of severe punishment of some repatriated refugees and their family members. There were reports of female victims of trafficking among refugees and workers crossing the border into China.
The government made no known attempts to prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses. Impunity was a widespread problem.
The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva established a Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the country’s human rights in 2013, and the commission issued a report in February that concluded the DPRK, its institutions, and officials committed and continued to commit systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations. The report further concluded that in many cases such violations constituted crimes against humanity. During the year the report and its recommendations received widespread attention at UN meetings and elsewhere.