N. Korea Expert Probes Regime's Crimes Against Humanity

WASHINGTON – A new North Korea report using the unique approach of analyzing the country's human rights violations through the developing field of crimes against humanity was recently introduced to the American public.

David Hawk, described by many as the world's leading North Korea human rights expert, is the author of the Freedom House report "Concentrations of Inhumanity" that was introduced Wednesday.

For his investigation, Hawk conducted interviews with former North Korean political prisoners in South Korea about the conditions in the North's political prison camps and compared his findings to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)'s standards on what constitute as crimes against humanity.

Crime against humanity is defined as when murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, rape or force prostitution, persecution, enforced disappearances and other inhumane acts are committed as widespread or systematic attacks directed at any civilian population with the knowledge and tolerance of the government.

Interviewed prisoners, according to Hawk, said they were subjected to forced labor and torture while in prison. Moreover, there were reports of widespread sex between prison officials and female inmates – amounting to rape or enforced prostitution, as defined by the ICC standard.

North Korea also "persecutes" its civilians according to ICC standards when it not only imprisons for life the wrong-doers and wrong-thinkers, but also their children and grandchildren.

In addition, the combination of death from starvation, forced labor, and prohibition on marriage and procreation for the nearly 200,000 persons in prison would constitute as extermination under the Rome Statute, added Hawk.

"While the report takes a formal, legalistic approach, we like to make the point that the North Korean violations are up there with the Rwanda's, the Cambodia's, and the Sierra Leone's when it comes to the worst situation of human rights violations taking place in the world today," said the report's author.

Hawk also noted that North Korea commits ten of the prescribed acts in the Rome Statute.

North Korea's horrendous human rights and treatment of believers in Christ has often spurred Christians to take action. Stories of people executed for possession of a Bible or tortured for refusing to denounce their faith in North Korea is not uncommon. The Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA ranks North Korea as the worst Christian persecution country in the world in its annual World Watch List.

Recently, prominent evangelical leaders such as Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals; and Gary Bauer, president of American Values were among the 30 signers of a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The May 25 letter opposed giving monetary assistance to North Korea without advancement in the country's human rights. Signers came from a broad range of fields which included representatives from Freedom House, Korean American Church Coalition, Physicians for Human Rights, and AFL-CIO.

Hawk's "Concentrations of Inhumanity" report was translated into Korean and originally first released in South Korea on May 20.

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