Sudan: The Debate

 

“Already there are worrying signs that Khartoum will seek to deny Sudanese people a chance to take part in fair and free elections. Only yesterday the political secretary of the National Congress, Professor Ibrahim Ghandour, said that the United Nations have “no right”no right to observe the coming elections.” ~Lord David Alton, Liverpool

A Recent Debate in the House of Lords: Sudan
Thursday January 7th 2010

Lord Alton of Liverpool: It gives me great pleasure to join others in congratulating my noble friend Baroness Cox for once again raising the long-standing suffering of the people of Sudan in your Lordships’ House. I will speak on two issuesthe situation in southern Sudan, following the speeches of others who have contributed to the debate today, and the situation in Darfur. I remind the House of my non-financial interest as Honorary Secretary of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Sudan.

This debate is a particularly timely curtain-raiser, as that committee will next week begin a series of hearings that will provide an opportunity to examine the fragile comprehensive peace agreement. There will be written and oral evidence from all the major players, including the Governments of north and south Sudan, international agencies and the Department for International Development, whose biggest programme in the world is in Sudan. A report will subsequently be published, focusing on the key challenges facing Sudan. I know that the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, has welcomed this initiative, and it will reinforce the distinctive British policy in Sudan. We should never underestimateas my noble friend has said to the Housethe crucial role that Britain plays in Sudan, or the high regard in which Sudanese people hold the United Kingdom. The Minister has herself taken a long-standing interest in these issueswe collaborated while she was a member of the European Parliament in highlighting the unfolding tragedy in Darfur. She and her predecessor as Africa Minister, Lord Malloch-Brown, have shown tireless commitment to the continent.

Sudan has the largest landmass in Africa. I first visited southern Sudan during the civil war, when John Garang’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement took me to see some of the ravaged areas, devastated by 21 years of aerial bombardment, and which led to 2 million deaths and 4 million displaced people. I visited the Ilemi triangle and southern Sudan again last year. Following the January 2005 CPA and Garang’s death, the SPLM has been led by Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of southern Sudan, and vice-president of Sudan. He has had to face the massive legacy of that war, with acute needs for most basic services, including, as we have heard, healthcare, agricultural production and education.

He has also had to face the complexities of a society comprised of a population of around 15 million people, with more than 200 ethnic groups. The challengesas the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has reminded usare daunting. Last year the south’s immunisation programme reached just one in five, while there are a mere twenty secondary schools serving the whole region. Less than half the population has access to safe drinking water, and, as my noble friend has told the House, pregnant women in southern Sudan have a greater chance of dying from pregnancy-related complications than a woman almost anywhere else in the world. One in seven children will die before their fifth birthday. Close to 90 per cent of southern Sudanese women cannot read or write. Humanitarian agencies lack the capacity to reach people in need. In a region that is around the size of France, there are less than 50 kilometres of tarmac roads, and those centre on the capital, Juba. In the long rainy seasons, many rural locations are unreachable by road or air for weeks at a time.

In addressing these considerable needs, southern Sudan has been relying not just on aid from countries such as our ownand I join with others in welcoming the support Her Majesty’s Government givesbut has also been relying on oil revenues to assist in its efforts to build its infrastructure. However, in a report last September, Fuelling Mistrust, Global Witness found that oil figures published by the Khartoum Government do not match those from other sources, and concluded that there is insufficient oversight of oil revenues. Another report suggested that $266m of oil arrears were outstanding. Perhaps today the Minister can tell us the current position in respect of these desperately needed resources.

The House may be aware that earlier today 10 major non-governmental organisationsincluding Oxfam, Christian Aid, Tearfund, Caritas, World Vision, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committeeissued a briefing paper entitled Rescuing the Peace in Southern Sudan. The House will look forward to hearing from the Minister as to the Government’s response to the recommendations and conclusions of those NGOs. They describe the situation in the south as “fragile”, and they warn that:

“The next 12 months will be critical for the future of Sudan … With landmark elections and a referendum on the horizon, the peace deal is fragile and the violence likely to escalate even further unless there is urgent international engagement”.

Already there are worrying signs that Khartoum will seek to deny Sudanese people a chance to take part in fair and free elections. Only yesterday the political secretary of the National Congress, Professor Ibrahim Ghandour, said that the United Nations have “no right”no right to observe the coming elections. It would be helpful if the Minister would say something about independent monitoring of the elections and the provision of facilities such as the mobile election units that my noble friend referred to earlier on, and maybe the provision of a United Nations-sponsored radio station, broadcasting to the whole of Sudan during the run-up to the elections, disseminating much-needed information.
Despite the enormous challenges that Sudan faces, the political leadership in the south must be commended for their efforts to safeguard autonomy, to develop models of good governance and particularly for the improvements made in the treatment of minorities. This is all in stark contrast with the persecution and systemic abuses of human rights that characterise the policies of the Government of Omar al-Bashir in the north. Earlier this week, the Open Society Institute raised the cases of Sudanese human rights campaigners forced to flee Khartoum. Perhaps the Minister can tell us whether Her Majesty’s Government is satisfied that it is meeting its own obligations to implement the 2008 EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders

Despite all of these significant issues, it is worth noting that the ten NGOs that I mentioned suggest that although:
“Sudan faces many interlocking challenges … if the international community acts now, they are surmountable”.
Surely the greatest of those challenges remains, as so many of your Lordships have said, the problem of conflict and insecurity. Instability and violence in the south has been fuelled by a number of contributory factors. The promised peace dividends have been slow to materialise and this is breeding disillusionment, which has replaced the initial post-war euphoria. In this climate, warlords and sectarian leaders have emerged. This inflammatory situationin which 2,500 people have been killed and 350,000 displaced during 2009has been ruthlessly exploited by Khartoum and its agents.

In a briefing for today’s debate, the international agency, Saferworld, says that the Government of southern Sudan,
“continues to be driven by the belief that a renewed confrontation with the north is likely; this perception dominates its security thinking”.

Saferworld points to the other danger to Sudan’s peace process: escalating violence and insecurity among the south’s diverse inhabitants. When the Minister comes to reply, perhaps she could say what is being done to develop southern Sudan’s security and civil institutions.

Khartoum’s hand is frequently found stirring tension and rivalry and inciting violence via its proxies. The north’s belligerence and in particular its collaboration with the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, about which we have heard so much, and which has been turned into a significant actor within the region, has continued to result in horrific violence in Sudan, northern Uganda and other neighbouring countries. This notoriously vicious rebel group continues to wreak havocsince the end of 2008 alone, the LRA has displaced close to 70,000 southern Sudanese in Western and Central Equatoria states and led to an influx of some 18,000 refugees from the neighbouring DRC.
Within the last few weeks the LRA have carried out gruesome attacks in Ezo, Nzara, Yambio, Tambura, Nagero and Ibba Counties. The attacks are always characterised by abductions, killings and looting. Let me refer to an extract from the joint NGO report published today:

“The unpredictable nature and brutality of the LRA attacks has sent waves of fear through Western Equatoria, the most badly hit area. With its fertile soils and relatively educated population, this should have been one of the first states in southern Sudan to thrive after the CPA. Instead, some communities are too frightened to stay in their villages or venture into the fields to cultivate. As a result, rural school enrolment has declined, and normally productive farming families are going hungry. To defend themselves against LRA attacks, communities have formed voluntary youth militia armed with traditional weapons. According to community accounts, the presence of these ‘Arrow Boys’ has provided a sense of security. But the reliance on a militia, which includes children among its ranks, is extremely worrying and is a sign of the inability of the GoSS security forces and the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMIS) to protect civilians”.

In a letter that I, the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester, along with Mr Eric Joyce, MP, sent to the noble Baroness on 4 November, we argued:

“LRA attacks exacerbate underlying political and ethnic tensions and have the potential to destroy advances made in the development of democratic governmentand it neutralises the considerable investment of UK aid”.
In her reply of 8 December, the Minister admitted:

“The LRA continue to undermine efforts to provide humanitarian and other assistance in parts of South-Sudan … The insecurity they create also risks hampering local level preparations and conduct of the 2010 elections and the Referendum in 2011”.

The Minister told us that Ban Ki-Moon,“is also considering establishing a regional office to focus on the LRA”.

Perhaps the noble Baroness can today tell us where we have reached in this process. Are we raising within the Security Council the proxy role of the LRA, which has a clear and deadly intent to sabotage any stability or progress in southern Sudan? Will she also propose that the Security Council strengthen the civilian protection mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan by increasing its operational presence, establishing a comprehensive civilian protection and conflict monitoring system, and creating rapid response capabilities for conflict-prone zones?

In her letter, the Minister cited the potentially positive impact of Senator Russ Feingold’s Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament Bill. Perhaps she can tell us what progress this is making and what is being done to create a coherent regional strategy to deal with the LRA. Her Majesty’s Government could do worse than to appoint a special envoyperhaps someone of the calibre of the Minister’s predecessor, the noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brownto spearhead our policy in a region which has seen the loss of more than 7 million lives in the past couple of decades: Africa’s World War One.

We should never forget that the indictments against Omar al-Bashir and Joseph Kony are against war criminals responsible for crimes against humanity. Louis-Moreno Ocampo and the International Criminal Court deserve much more robust support from the world’s political leaders than they have received thus far. The intelligence community should spare no effort to apprehend the leaders of the LRA.

We also ought to be doing more to ensure not just that we bring about disarmament, but that we stop the flow of arms into this deadly region. The weapons of mass destruction in Sudan are the hundreds of thousands of foreign-made deadly small arms. In a report issued last month, it was claimed that “transport and brokering actors” come,
“from a range of other states, including European ones, despite the EU embargo, which prohibits ‘brokering services, financing and other related services’”.

It points to European actors, including British companies and citizens, which have been involved in that. What are the Government doing about this? What are we doing to encourage China to stop supplying arms to Sudan? The acquisition of arms by Khartoum, which already has 470,000 weapons in its security forces and 2 million in the hands of civilians around the country, grievously adds to arms proliferation and insecurity. Millions have been killed in this part of Africa. If ever there is to be long-term peace and reconciliation, there must be a determination to secure justice and security.
In Darfur, 400,000 people have been killed, 2 million have been displaced and 90 per cent of the villages have been razed to the ground. There is no timetable or mechanism equivalent to the CPA. There is no durable peace agreement with Chad. The UN’s proclaimed doctrine of a “duty to protect” has frequently been made a mockery of. We must concentrate our efforts on all these issues.

In our generation, conflict has led to 7 million deaths in Sudan, Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. We should be indebted to my noble friend for ensuring that we never lose sight of this appalling carnage. It is without parallel anywhere in the world.

FULL REPORT: North Korean Rights Under the UDHR

UNDHRandNKFINAL: Download in .doc form

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and North Korea Report prepared by the North Korea Freedom Coalition

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaiming that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”  The preamble stated: “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.”

On this 61st anniversary of this declaration, the North Korea Freedom Coalition is releasing this document showing how the citizens of North Korea fare under the Kim Jong-il regime citing the 30 articles of the Declaration.  The Authors of this Declaration warned in 1948 that a lack of human rights leads to “barbarous acts”, which certainly describes the Kim Jong-il regime, and with this examination we hope that the “conscience of mankind” will be outraged and act to promote human rights for the people of North Korea.

Outlined below are the thirty articles of the Declaration of Human Rights and how the regime in North Korea fares when these universally accepted rights are considered. Sadly, none of these rights are enjoyed by the citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic or North Korea, who are not only unaware of this document but unaware of the term “human rights.” The North Korea Freedom Coalition plans to work to disseminate this document in North Korea as was called for in the original Declaration and calls for all people who enjoy these rights to use them to help the people of North Korea gain theirs.

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Article 1.All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

But in North Korea…

“One’s Songbun (class background) is either good or bad, and detailed records are kept by party cadre and security officials of the degree of goodness or badness of everyone’s songbun.  There is really no way to escape one’s songbun.”   The favored group constitutes about 25 to 30 percent of the population.   “Ranked below them in descending order are forty-seven distinct groups in what must be the most class-differentiated society in the world today….North Korea’s population can be broken down into three main groups, roughly equal in size.  The preferred class…is given every advantage; with hard work, individuals in this group can easily rise to the top.  The middle 40 percent of the population-the ordinary people-hope for a lucky break…There is no hope, however, of a college education or a profession career.  The bottom 30 percent of the population –the ‘undesirables’ are treated like a pariah class; all doors to advancement, the army, the higher schools of education are closed to them.”

Kim Il Sung’s North Korea by Helen Louise Hunter

North Korea prioritizes the masses before the individual.  North Korea also discriminates against people based on their genealogical background…those of the ‘hostile class’ face direct discrimination.”

Survey of North Korean Human Rights Conditions 2008

“The pervasive repression imposed by the authorities ensures that the people live in continual fear and are pressed to inform on each other. The State practices extensive surveillance over its inhabitants and even officials live in daily apprehension, since their colleagues are encouraged to “whistle blow” mutually. Throughout the years, the authorities have bred a culture of mistrust and a policy of divide and rule that permeate families and communities.”

-Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Discrimination against women in North Korea is pervasive. While the North Korean Constitution states that ‘women hold equal social status and rights with men,’ few women have reached high levels of the Party or the Government, despite the fact that women are represented proportionally in the labor force.

-Cammarota, P., Crace, J., Worly, K., & Zaltzman, H. (2007). Legal Strategies for Protecting Human Rights in North Korea. Washington, DC: U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

Given the very hierarchical system in the country, those in the elite group live well, while the rest of the population suffers. The discrimination which results from such stratification can be seen through the plight of various groups.”

-Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

The North Korean authorities have distributed food unevenly, in a way which favors those who are economically active and loyal to the state. Many vulnerable groups, including homeless children and the elderly, are believed to have been effectively abandoned by the state.

-Amnesty International USA (1999, May 31)

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Invasion of privacy is widespread in North Korea.  The institution of ‘neighborhood units’ (inminban) and social organizations oversee the population and implement Party polices by means of a collectivized invasion of privacy.

Survey of North Korean Human Rights Conditions 2008 by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea

The freedoms from want, from fear, from discrimination, from persecution and from exploitation are regrettably transgressed with impunity by those authorities, in an astonishing setting of abuse after abuse.”

– Statement by Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur to the UN, October 2009

Article 4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“There have been widespread reports of trafficking in North Korean women and young girls into China. Some are sold by their families or by kidnappers as wives or concubines to men in China; others flee to escape starvation and deprivation in North Korea. Many such women, unable to speak Chinese, are held as virtual prisoners and some are forced to work as prostitutes. Moreover, guards in the prison system sexually abuse female prisoners. Victims and witnesses have stated that prison officials rape female prisoners in prison camps and detention facilities. The North Korean authorities fail to acknowledge differences in women’s physical and mental condition compared to men. Also, within the security services, only men interrogate the women. For example, while investigating trafficking, security personnel frequently abuse women with beatings and insulting remarks.  Female guards are not used in the imprisonment facilities and, as a result, male guards supervise the women prisoners. Reports indicate that women are denied access to shower facilities even during menstruation.”

-Cammarota, P., Crace, J., Worly, K., & Zaltzman, H. (2007). Legal Strategies for Protecting Human Rights in North Korea. Washington, DC: U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

“Multiple forms of exploitation are committed by the authorities and other actors against the general population, from systemic exploitation to exploitation at the community and personal levels.

-Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

The kwan-li-so (prison camps in North Korea) include the repressive phenomenon of lifetime sentences for perceived political wrongdoers paired with guilt-by-association imprisonment for up to three generations of the supposed wrongdoers’ families. Whatever the category, all the prison facilities are characterized by very large numbers of deaths in detention from forced, hard labor and are accompanied by deliberate starvation-level food rations. Incarceration of Koreans repatriated from China includes routine torture during interrogation and the practice of forced abortion or infanticide inflicted upon babies borne by pregnant repatriates.

-The Hidden Gulag, by David Hawk and US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Although torture is prohibited by law, it is extensively practiced. In addition, the substandard prison conditions, including lack of food, poor hygiene, freezing temperatures in wintertime, forced labor and corporal punishment, constitute a myriad of abuses and deprivations, ensuring that many prisons are akin to purgatory for the inmates.”

-Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

“The North Korean regime routinely commits torture, especially in interrogation facilities operated by the National Security Agency. Victims of North Korean torture are subjected to: • Beatings with shovels to the point of unconsciousness or death; • Electric shock; • Prolonged periods of exposure; • Confinement in tiny punishment cells in which prisoners are unable to stand upright or lie down; • Motionless kneeling, water torture, and facial and shin beatings with rifle butts; • Hanging by the wrists; • Forced beatings by fellow prisoners; • Required to stand up/sit down repeatedly until they collapse or die;• Forced abortions or infanticide

– Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor, U.S. Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights Practices – 2005: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,

Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“The legal system does not acknowledge individual rights. The Ministry of People’s Security routinely dispenses with trials in political cases and refers prisoners to the Ministry of State Security for punishment.”

Library of Congress – Federal Research Division Country Profile: North Korea

“In fact, the mission of North Korean attorneys is to protect the policies of the Korean Workers’ Party rather than the rights of the accused.

-White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2009 –Korean Institute for National Unification

“North Korea’s code of criminal procedures does not adopt a preliminary warrant system under the due process system when legal force, including the examination of evidence, detention, search and seizures by investigators or pretrial agents, is needed.

Survey of North Korean Human Rights Conditions 2008 by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea

Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“North Korea continues the policy of strictly separating political crimes from ordinary crimes and punishes the political offenders under different terms.”

“Citizens are tried in open courts, but officials and party staff are tried in secret.”

-White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2009 –Korean Institute for National Unification

Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

“Regarding the right of due process of law and legal protection, the foremost problem is that most North Koreans are unaware of the various legal procedures, including criminal law, even if they have knowledge of the law, the decisions, instructions and policies of the Party and ‘the Dear Leader’ (Kim Jong-il) are given priority over the law.”

’ –Survey of North Korean Human Rights Conditions 2008 by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea

“Impunity is enjoyed by the regime in power and the machinery surrounding it. For instance, the justice system is in desperate need of revamping, despite the various legislative reforms in recent years.

Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Arbitrary arrest, detention, and lack of due process remain serious concerns.”

Human Rights Watch (January 2009)

“Although detention places are not officially prisons, people appear to have been detained there against their will, often in appalling conditions.”

Amnesty International (1999)

Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“North Korea does not have an independent judiciary.”

Freedom House, Freedom in the World North Korea Report, 2009

The justice system leaves much to be desired. It lacks an independent judiciary, lawyers who would act genuinely on behalf of accused persons and juries who would provide the necessary checks and balances for the delivery of justice.  Even though judges, lawyers and juries all exist in the system, they are subservient to the ‘powers that be’ and do not uphold the internationally recognized notion of the rule of law.”

Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

Article 11. (1)Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.   (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“The jury system is based upon two persons who work with the courts, not to ensure that the rights of the accused are upheld but to confirm the list of crimes presented at the trials and to affirm the conviction of the alleged wrongdoer.  The lawyer’s role is to pressure the accused to confess to a crime rather than to defend his client.”

-White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2008 –Korean Institute for National Unification

Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“A 75 year-old North Korean factory manager was shot by firing squad in October for failing to declare his family background, investing his own money in the factory, appointing his children as its managers and making international phone calls.”

-Amnesty International 2008

“Sometimes individuals are publically executed for the crime of circulating information about the outside world through leaflets and/or video materials.”

-White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2009 –Korean Institute for National Unification

Article 13.  (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.  (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Freedom of movement does not exist, and forced internal resettlement is routine. Access to Pyongyang, where the availability of food, housing, and health care is somewhat better than in the rest of the country, is tightly restricted.”

Freedom House, Freedom in the World North Korea Report, 2009

“North Korea has ordered its border guards to open fire on anyone who crosses its border without permission, in what could be an attempt to thwart defections by people disgruntled over its recent currency reform, a news report said Saturday.

-Associated Press December 2009

“Any citizen who defects, surrenders, or gives secrets to a foreign country or to the enemy in betrayal of the country and the people shall be sentenced to a re-education through labor institution for not less than five years.  In cases where the person commits an extremely grave offense, he or she shall be given life imprisonment in a re-education through labor institution, the death penalty or have his or her property confiscated.”

North Korea Criminal Code, Article 62

A person who unlawfully crosses the frontier of the Republic shall be sentenced to a labor training institution for up to two years.”

North Korea Criminal Code, Article 233

“There is basically no change in the policy of restricting the freedom of travel, residence, and movement, as well as the practice of banishment.

-White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2008 –Korean Institute for National Unification

“North Korea’s policy of punishing border crossers is a clear violation of the fundamental right to leave one’s own country.”

Human Rights Watch, North Korea Report March 2007

Article 14.   (1)Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

‘The Chinese government forcibly repatriates North Korean refugees facing starvation and political and religious persecution in their homeland, contravening its obligations under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol….Repatriated North Koreans face long prison sentences, torture, and execution.”

U.S. Congressional –Executive Commission on China Annual Report 2006, 2007, 2008

Those forcibly returned are held for interrogation in detention centers or police stations operated by North Korean security agencies. Depending on whom they are and the result of interrogation, they may be sent back to their home province, or to labor camps for up to six months. A few, particularly former officials or returnees found with religious literature, are assigned long terms of imprisonment with hard labor or in some cases face execution. Those sent back to their home province are ostracized within their community and subjected to surveillance. Many flee the country again. Some have fled and been returned several times, reportedly facing increasingly severe punishments with each failed escape attempt.

Amnesty International 2004

Article 15. (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.  (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“North Korea handed down a death sentence by firing squad for a woman who expressed the desire to go to South Korea and live in freedom and hold a press conference to expose hardship of life in North Korea.”

–North Korea Today: Research Institute for North Korean Society January 2008

Article 16. (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Personal background also affects marriages.  Men with unfavorable personal backgrounds have little chance to overcome the class barriers unless fortunate enough to marry a woman with a good personal background. If one’s background is unfavorable control apparatus such as the Security Agency will often systematically interfere with personal affairs.” For example, a man was denied the opportunity to marry ten times by the Security Agency or Factory Party Committee while one woman was denied the ability to marry because the background on her father’s side was bad.

-White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2009 –Korean Institute for National Unification

“On the whole, people seem to accept the system of arranged marriages, as it is practiced, with the party exercising totalitarian controls over the most personal of social issues-the choice of one’s marriage partner.”

Kim Il Sung’s North Korea by Helen Louise Hunter

Article 17. (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“It was reported that the authorities were beginning to register small plots of land with a view to eliminating private patch farming.  This “kitchen farming” has to date been very important for the survival of the general population, who lack adequate food and who undertake such farming to supplement food availability and intake. Such a restriction would cause further hardships for the general population, for whom the authorities are unable adequately to provide food and other assistance.

-Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Although the DPRK committed to protect religious freedom in its constitution and international human rights treaties, and claims to adhere to those commitments, there is little evidence that the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion exists in North Korea…  Over the past year there have been no indications that the status of religious freedom has improved. In fact, reports continue to indicate that the North Korean government has taken new steps to combat the growth of clandestine religious activity, particularly that which reportedly is spread by cross-border contact with China. According to the testimony of North Korean refugees, anyone engaged in such activity can be arrested, tortured, and imprisoned.

– Annual Report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom May 2009, on North Korea

“Those accused of proselytizing/practicing in underground churches have also been reportedly executed…Religious freedom, although guaranteed by the constitution, is in practice sharply curtailed. There are reports of severe repression of people involved in public and private religious activities, through imprisonment, torture and executions. Many Christians are reportedly being held in labor camps, where conditions were reported to be extremely harsh.”

-Amnesty International 2005

Article 19. Everyone has 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.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Opposition of any kind is not tolerated. According to reports, any person who expresses an opinion contrary to the position of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party faces severe punishment, and so do their family in many cases.”

“The domestic news media is strictly censored and access to international media broadcasts is restricted. According to reports, at least 40 journalists since the mid-1990s have been “re-educated” for errors such as misspelling a senior official’s name. Radio and television sets were tuned to receive only state broadcasts and those who listened to foreign radio stations risked being punished.”

-Amnesty International 2005

Article 20. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“The government of North Korea does not allow the freedom of assembly.”

Survey of North Korean Human Rights Conditions 2008 by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea

“Freedom of assembly is not recognized, and there are no known associations or organizations other than those created by the state. Strikes, collective bargaining, and other organized-labor activities are illegal.”

– Freedom House, Freedom in the World North Korea Report, 2009

Article 21. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“A single party rules over the country and, despite the pretence of national elections to the Supreme People’s Assembly in 2009, such elections are cosmetic; they merely rubber-stamp one-party rule with its determined grip on the population.”

Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

“North Korea is not an electoral democracy. Kim Jong-il has led the DPRK since the 1994 death of his father, founding leader Kim Il-sung. He has many titles but rules as the chairman of the National Defense Commission, the “highest office of state” since the office of president was permanently dedicated to Kim Il-sung in a 1998 constitutional revision. North Korea’s parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly, is a rubber-stamp institution elected to five-year terms; the latest elections were held in August 2003. The body meets irregularly for only a few days each year. It last elected Kim Jong-il as National Defense Commission chairman in September 2003. All candidates for office, who run unopposed, are preselected by the ruling Korean Workers’ Party and two subordinate minor parties.”

– Freedom House, Freedom in the World North Korea Report, 2009

Article 22. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“With plausible policy adjustments – such as maintaining food imports on commercial terms or aggressively seeking multilateral assistance—the government could have avoided the great famine and the current shortages that continue to exist.  Instead, it blocked humanitarian aid to the hardest hit parts of the country, during the peak of the famine and curtailed commercial food imports as humanitarian assistance began to arrive.  Rather than supplementing supply, the government used aid largely as balance-of-payments support, cutting commercial imports, and, reallocating expenditures to other priorities, including the military.

-Hunger and Human Rights: The Politics of Famine in North Korea US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

Article 23. (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.  (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.  (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Choosing an occupation in North Korea depends not on individual decisions but on the personnel supply-demand plans of the Party.”

-White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2009 –Korean Institute for National Unification

“Even if people got to work, they have nothing to do, and factories lack the ability to compensate their workers with wages or rations.”

-Survey of North Korean Human Rights Conditions 2008

“The Government regularly ordered people out for a 150 day ‘food battle’, or intensive agricultural labor, but those involved were not guaranteed to share in the produce.

Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on NKHR, referring to the DPRK regime in his latest report to the UN, October 2009

“There are no genuine trade unions, apart from those which prop up the regime.”

Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

Article 24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“The regime, which believes that people ought to ‘do away with the slightest indolence and relaxation in life and work and live with revolutionary morale. always in a strained and mobilized posture’ provides little in the way of recreational facilities…

“With all the demands made on their time, North Korean students have little to spend by themselves, with their friends, or at home with their family.  Their days are programmed: from thirty to forty hours a week in class, from one to five hours a week of militia training, from twelve to twenty hours a week of volunteer labor, and from three to six hours a week of criticism meetings.  That leaves precious little free time, some of which must be spent on homework.”

Kim Il Sung’s North Korea by Helen Louise Hunter

“It is ironic that people are being forced to work more through mass mobilization, even though this is not necessarily to their benefit but to the benefit of the regime in power and its own sustenance.

-Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.  (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Millions of North Koreans continued to suffer hunger and chronic malnutrition. Continued government restrictions on freedom of movement and information, lack of transparency and hampering of independent monitoring meant that food aid may not always have reached those most in need. According to WFP estimates, nearly half of North Korea’s 23.7 million do not have enough to eat and more than a third of the population (nearly 6.5 million North Koreans) is chronically malnourished. Rations from the Public Distribution System – the primary source of staple food for more than 70 per cent of the population – have reportedly declined from the already insufficient 319g per person per day in 2003 to 250g in March 2005. Urban families reportedly spent up to 85 per cent of their incomes on food. Such households were heavily dependent on inflation-prone private markets, where staples cost 10 to 15 times more than in the government-run system.”

-Amnesty International, World Food Program 2005

“The social welfare system, including the quality of hospitals, is in serious decline.

Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

“Particularly worrying was the finding that cases of children affected by diarrhea had increased markedly, to nearly twice the number recorded in the previous Government/United Nations nutritional survey in 2005. Child malnutrition and illnesses have thus been on the rise.

-Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in DPRK, Annual Report on Human Rights in DPRK August 2009

“About 20% of children under the age of two suffer from diarrheal diseases caused by contaminated water and poor hygiene practices….Approximately one third of mothers are malnourished and anemic, a rate that has not improved since 2002.

– UNICEF Report on North Korea, Nov. 2006

“DPRK Infant mortality ratio – 47 per 1,000 live births; maternal mortality ratio – 370 per 100,000 live births.  South Korea Infant mortality ratio – 4 per 1,000 live births; maternal mortality ratio – 14 per 100,000 live births.”

UN Population Fund State of the World Population 2009 Report

Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.  (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.  (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Although access to education is quasi universal, the school environment with hundreds of classrooms damaged or destroyed by floods remains poor as well as the quality of education due to lack of resources and exposure.”

UNICEF, Humanitarian Action Report 2009, Asia and the Pacific, DPRK

“Children are taught discipline and love for Kim, the state, and their parents…They are taught that Kim is the source of everything good and that they should love, honor and obey him.”

Kim Il Sung’s North Korea by Helen Louise Hunter

“Children would be taught to be militant revolutionaries.  ‘We must educate the students to hate the landlord and capitalist classes and the exploiting system,’ Kim said.”

-Under the Loving Care of the Heavenly Father by Bradley K. Martin

“’Thank you, Father Kim Il-SUNG’ is the first phrase North Korean parents are instructed to teach to their children.  From cradle to grave, the North Korean citizens are surrounded by the all-encompassing presence of the ‘Great Leader’ and his son, the ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-il.   The Kim dynasty is much more than an authoritarian government; it holds itself out as the ultimate source of power.”

“The religious cult around the Kims touches every individual and every province in the DPRK.  Students are required to memorize the ‘Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One Ideology System of the Party’, and every North Korean is expected to attend one ore more of an estimated 450,000 Kim Il Sung Revolutionary Research Centers at least weekly for instruction, inspiration and self-criticism.”

-“Thank You Father Kim Il Sung:” US Commission on International Religious Freedom

Article 27.  (1)Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Culture in North Korea would be ‘socialist in content, nationalist in form.’  In other words, old novels, plays, songs and poems unsuitable for the indoctrination of the masses might be consigned to libraries and filing cabinets accessible only to a handful of specialists.”

-Under the Loving Care of the Heavenly Father by Bradley K. Martin

“Apparently no one is ever above suspicion, especially intellectuals and creative people.   Party officials have been particularly zealous in monitoring the activities of North Korea’s top artists and musicians….Whereas most people were supposed to attend mutual criticism sessions once a week, artists and actors were ordered to attend such sessions every other day.”

Kim Il Sung’s North Korea by Helen Louise Hunter

“North Korean scientists who complained that their country is turning into China’s industrial waste site have been purged in North Korea…  The soil survey research center at Hamhung Institute of Technology released a research paper on its study of land pollution resulting from burial of industrial waste from China and a letter urging countermeasures to the Central Committee of the (North Korean) Workers’ Party. The institute was dismantled and senior officials and researchers were all purged, because ‘the scientists violated rules by reporting the matter directly to the party secretary without going through the required process.’”

The Dong-A Ilbo, November 26 2009

Article 28. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“The government’s human rights record remained poor, and the regime continued to commit numerous serious abuses. The regime subjected citizens to rigid controls over many aspects of their lives. Citizens did not have the right to change their government. There continued to be reports of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, arbitrary detention, and political prisoners. Prison conditions were harsh and life-threatening, and torture occurred. Pregnant female prisoners underwent forced abortions in some cases, and in other cases babies were killed upon birth in prisons. The judiciary was not independent and did not provide fair trials. Citizens were denied freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association, and the government attempted to control all information. The government restricted freedom of religion, citizens’ movement, and worker rights. There continued to be reports of severe punishment of some repatriated refugees. There were widespread reports of trafficking in women and girls among refugees and workers crossing the border into China.

-2008 Human Rights Report: DPRK; US State Department, February 25th 2009

Article 29. (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.  (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Everyone in North Korea seems to know pretty much what his songbun (class background) is, although there are no precise gradations and no official notice is ever given.  At every important juncture in life – at the end of middle and high school, with admission or non-admission to college, entry or non-entry in the army, admission or non-admission to the party, approval or non-approval for marriage, assignment to a job, or transfer into or out of the city or into or out of a collective farm—it is fairly obvious whether one’s songbun is good or bad.  Just how good or how bad becomes clearer over time, with the more subtle changes in a career.. The system has a negative effect on the incentive, ambition and diligence of the privileged class as well as the non-privileged.”

Kim Il Sung’s North Korea by Helen Louise Hunter

Article 30. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

BUT IN NORTH KOREA…

“Therefore, the cry must be human rights.  It must be the first thing on our agenda, on any agenda, in any discussion with North Korea.  That is what we are calling for today, as one voice, the voice of people of many faiths and nationalities.

-North Korea Freedom Day statement Seoul Peace Prize laureate Suzanne Scholte

Iran: Maryam and Marzieh RELEASED!

Maryam and Marzieh

Praise the Lord! Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh were released from Evin prison in Iran yesterday, Wednesday November 18, 2009 at 3:30pm, without bail.  They may have to face an additional court hearing.

“Words are not enough to express our gratitude to the Lord and to His people who have prayed and worked for our release,” they said.

Maryam and Marzieh were arrested because of their Christian faith on March 5, 2009. Though their health has suffered greatly while in prison, they are doing as well as could be expected, and are rejoicing in the Lord’s faithfulness to them.

We greatly rejoice in their release and ask you to pray for their full and unconditional release, and for their safety and quick recovery.  We look forward to sharing more wonderful news with you later.
Thank you again for all your support and prayers and please continue to pray for Maryam and Marzieh to have a safe transition.

Civil Society Responds to UN Proposal for Binding Treaty on “Defamation of Religions”

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Erin Weston
Phone: 703.503.0791
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2009

Civil Society Responds to UN Proposal for Binding Treaty on “Defamation of Religions”The United Nations has continuously passed non-binding resolutions on “defamation of religions” since 1999. However, for the first time ever this year, a UN body proposed a binding treaty to combat the “defamation of religions.” Over 100 NGOS from over 20 countries have signed a Common Statement protesting the resolution.In a Geneva meeting that concluded on October 30th, Pakistan, on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and Nigeria, on behalf of the Africa Group, proposed a binding treaty amendment to the ICERD, an existing international treaty on racism.

Meanwhile, in New York on October 29th, Syria, on behalf of the OIC, along with Belarus and Venezuela, proposed yet another General Assembly resolution “combating defamation of religions.”

The resolution lends credibility to the proposal of a binding treaty and continues to provide international cover for domestic anti-blasphemy laws in countries like Pakistan and Sudan. A preliminary vote on the resolution is expected before Thanksgiving, and a final plenary vote is expected in early to mid-December.

In response, Jubilee Campaign  has joined over 100 other human rights organizations in a common civil society statement against the concept of “defamation of religions. ” This coalition is indeed an odd group of bedfellows, both religiously diverse with Muslims, Christians, Baha’is, Jews, Hare Krishnas, Atheists, Humanists, and non-religious organizations, and also regionally diverse, hailing from over 20 countries around the world. The civil society statement and signatories are available at www.whatisdefamationofreligion.com.

“Defamation of Religions is a misunderstood concept,” said Ann Buwalda, Executive Director of the Jubilee Campaign. “Many countries assume that because the law will not affect their people, that voting for the resolution is a show of political good faith with the supportive countries. In reality, if this becomes binding law, governments and citizens who commit crimes with impunity for the sake of blasphemy or other non-popular idealogy will be completely and legally validated by the international community.”

Please click here to download the pdf of the statement and signatories.

Jubilee Campaign promotes the human rights and religious liberty of ethnic and religious minorities; advocates the release of prisoners of conscience; and protects and promotes the freedom and safety of children from bodily harm and sexual exploitation.

For more information, please contact Erin Weston, Deputy Assistant to the Director, at erinweston@jubileecampaign.org.