The United Nations has sent investigators on behalf of the Human Right’s council to investigate possible human right violations in North Korea. The UN estimates that at least two hundred thousand people are being held in prison camps to keep them from going against the current government or as punishment for doing so. The United Nations investigators listened to former prisoners’ testimony as to what has been occurring in these camps. Testimony included claims of torture, starvation, and murder. Some of these former prisoners were not even guilty of crimes but were forced into the camps due to familial association with dissenters of the government. The North Korean government claims that all of the testimony and findings are slander and refused to take part in the investigation. The investigators claim that international forces will be needed and should step in to stop these violations from occurring. But, there is also the problem of finding a way to prosecute the abusers (as North Korea is not an official member of the International Criminal Court).
This article brings forth many issues. First and foremost, the according to the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. According to the testimony heard, prisoners were tortured, starved to death, and there was one instance of a woman being forced to drown her own child. These violate that distinctly stated human right completely. The very fact that the North Korean government is denying that these victims’ abuses occurred creates a whole other issue, as how is the international community to stop these violations from occurring if the North Koreans not only deny but call the claims “slander”, without further angering them or making things worse for current prisoners. The actuality that these political prisoner camps exist for the purpose of detaining the citizens of the country for disagreeing with those in power goes against the whole ideal of freedom of expression or as it is put in the Declaration of Human Rights “the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” By imprisoning and torturing dissenters, the government is using a form of terror tactics to control its citizens.
Although a difficult task, the world community should step in and find a way to stop these abuses. If these abuses continue how can any leaders say they uphold human rights? The very definition of a Human Right is that it stands for all people the world over and world leaders cannot pick and choose to whom they are willing to protect from abuses.