The suspects in North Korea are subjected to torture, humiliation and sexual violence carried out by a criminal justice system that treats them “under animal”. The conclusions are from the first report about the brutality of pre-trial detention conditions in the country, prepared by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
According to the non-governmental organization for the defense of human rights, detainees are placed in cramped and unhealthy cells, forced to confess and denied access to adequate food and clothing.
“Prisoners literally languish due to a lack of food, unless they are able to bribe guards so their families can send them food,” revealed HRW Deputy Director for Asia Phil Robertson, quoted by the newspaper “The Guardian” and by the France-Presse news agency. “People have very good reason to fear North Korea’s pre-trial arrest and detention,” he said. The official added that only suspects with political connections or money to bribe police officers, prison guards and prosecutors have any chance of saving themselves and their families.
Most detainees and prisoners are subjected to abuse that includes torture, forced confessions and inhumane conditions of confinement. Detained women are subject to sexual harassment and aggression, including rape, the report said.
“Endemic torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”
The document is based on interviews with 15 women and men who were detained in the country, as well as former officials with knowledge of the criminal justice system. All respondents are North Koreans who fled the country after 2011, the year in which the current leader, Kim Jong-un, took power, says the Guardian.
Former detainees report that they were forced to sit on the floor of the cell, kneel or cross-legged for periods of time that reached 16 hours a day. The slightest movement led to punishments that could range from aggression (with hands, poles or leather belts) to the obligation to run in circles on terrain up to a thousand times.
The report calls on North Korean authorities to publicly acknowledge human rights violations and end “endemic torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” of detainees. HRW also calls on South Korea, the United States and other United Nations member states to “pressure the North Korean government publicly and privately”.
The UN has already accused North Korea of “systematic, widespread and gross” violations of human rights, including torture, extrajudicial killings and maintaining a network of gulags for political prisoners.