North Korea has been urged by Amnesty International to close two political prisoner camps, where it says torture is rampant and execution commonplace.
Amnesty International has released new satellite images of the Kwanliso 15 and 16 camps.
It quotes one former official as saying that inmates are forced to dig their own graves and women disappear after “servicing” officials.
Amnesty alleges that hundreds of thousands of people are held in detention facilities in North Korea.
The organization says it has passed its latest evidence to the UN Commission of Inquiry investigating human rights abuses in North Korea.
The rights group says it interviewed one former security official from Kwanliso 16 last month.
North Korea has been urged by Amnesty International to close two political prisoner camps
The official, referred to as Mr. Lee, said prisoners were forced to dig their own graves and were then killed with blows to the neck.
Mr. Lee said he witnessed prison officers strangling detainees and beating them to death with wooden sticks.
He added: “After a night of <<servicing>> officials, women had to die because the secret could not get out. This happens at most of the political prison camps.”
The new satellite images show both camps.
Kwanliso 15 covers 142 sq miles and is in central North Korea, about 45 miles from the capital Pyongyang.
Kwanliso 16, near Hwaseong in North Hamgyong province, covers approximately 556 sq km.
Amnesty said it was not able to verify prisoner populations, but said there might have been a slight increase at Kwanliso 16 and a slight decrease at Kwanliso 15.
The report’s author, Amnesty North Korea researcher Rajiv Narayan, said: “Under its new leader Kim Jong-un, North Korea is violating every conceivable human right.
“People are sent to the political prison camps without charge, let alone a trial, many of them simply for knowing someone who has fallen out of favor.”
Rajiv Narayan added: “We are calling on the North Korean authorities to acknowledge the existence of the camps, close them, and grant unhindered access to independent human rights monitors like Amnesty International.”
Michael Kirby, the chief of a UN inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea, says he was “moved to tears” by testimonies of “gross human rights violations”.
Michael Kirby, a retired judge, said the inquiry had “copious evidence” of rights abuses in North Korea.
During the inquiry’s hearings, eyewitnesses described systematic torture, starvation and executions.
North Korea describes the inquiry as “a political plot” and has not given investigators access to the country.
However, the inquiry said that it was not biased against Pyongyang and that it had consistently asked North Korean representatives to take part in public hearings and question witnesses.
The inquiry is the UN’s first-ever human rights investigation into North Korea.
The UN panel interviewed witnesses in South Korea, Japan and the UK, and is conducting hearings in the US on Wednesday and Thursday. It will submit a final report to the UN in March 2014.
“Some of the testimony has been extremely distressing,” Michael Kirby said.
Michael Kirby said the UN inquiry had copious evidence of rights abuses in North Korea
“I am a judge of 35 years experience and I have seen in that time a lot of melancholy court cases which somewhat harden one’s heart.”
“But even in my own case, there have been a number of testimonies which have moved me to tears,” he said.
Some of the atrocities reported included a woman forced to drown her own baby; children imprisoned from birth and starved; and families tortured for watching a foreign soap opera.
Kim Song-ju, a North Korean defector, told the hearing last week about the torture he experienced in a detention camp.
“The North Korean prison guards were telling us that once you get to this prison you’re not human, you’re just like animals,” he said.
Meanwhile, fellow inquiry member Marzuki Darusman said that fewer North Koreans had fled to South Korea in 2013.
In 2013 so far, 1,041 North Koreans had entered South Korea, compared to 1,509 in 2012 and 2,706 in 2011, he said.
“This represents a reversal of the trend of steady increase in the number of annual arrivals since 1998, possibly due to recently tightened border control and increased incidents of refoulement,” he said.
Refoulement refers to the forced return of refugees to their country of origin or another country where they are likely to be persecuted.
North Korean refugees tend to make their journey to South Korea via China, which borders the North. However, China often returns North Korean refugees, ruling them economic migrants.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.