During a recent Congressional hearing, State Department officials described efforts by the United States and the international community to increase pressure on North Korea for its abysmal human rights record. State officials cited the comprehensive 2014 report by the UN Commission of Inquiry that lays bare a brutal reality: North Korea remains a totalitarian state that denies freedoms of expression, religion, peaceful assembly, association, and movement.
An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 North Koreans suffer deplorable conditions in political prison camps, where government officials commit human rights violations including extrajudicial killing, enslavement, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, rape, and forced abortions.
In addition to the UN report, the United States has worked to amplify defector testimony in public forums around the world as a means of raising awareness of North Koreans who remain imprisoned.
At the same time, the United States and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights are working to document the human rights violations being perpetrated by the North Korean regime and hold those perpetrators accountable for their abuses.
In an effort to put additional pressure on the North Korean regime, the United States has supported annual resolutions condemning the human rights situation in North Korea in both the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
The mounting criticism of the North Korean regime’s human rights record has had an effect, said Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Robert King. With a growing number of countries condemning North Korea’s human rights violations, North Korea has very few supporters left.The few countries that voted against resolutions critical of North Korea are among the world’s worst human rights violators.
King said the North Korean people deserve to hear the truth. That’s why the United States continues to support the broadcasting of news and information about the world to North Koreans through radio broadcasts by Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.
North Korea must address its egregious human rights violations. The choice is clear. Investment in its people, respect for human rights, and concrete steps toward denuclearization can lead to peace, prosperity, and improved relations with the United States. Absent these measures, North Korea will only face increased isolation.