DPRK

FACTBOX-North Korea's suspected human rights abuses

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15 Jan 2010 08:02:31 GMT

Source: Reuters

Jan 15 (Reuters) - North Korea has increased punishments and toughened laws for those caught trying to leave the reclusive state, a U.N. human rights envoy said on Friday. [ID:nTOE60E04S]

The following is a look at North Korea's suspected human rights abuses designed to squash attempts at undermining leader Kim Jong-il's iron rule. The information is based on reports by the United States, United Nations and the testimony of defectors.

* The North uses fear, intimidation and internal spies to keep its citizens in line.

* It maintains a network of political prisons where it sends anyone it feels may be working against the state. It can also imprison that person's relatives, who are guilty by association.

* The political prison system holds about 100,000 to 200,000 North Koreans. They are subject to torture and abuse. Their children are used as forced labour. Female prisoners are sexually abused and subject to forced abortions.

* North Korean leaders intimidate the masses through public executions, random killings and kidnappings.

* The North denies citizens free speech and association. It has several internal spy networks to instil fear and keep its citizens from organising protests.

* It conducts random security checks of private homes and communities, while correspondence and telephone conversations are monitored by the government.

* There is no freedom of religion, while it instils in its citizens the belief that Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il are to be deified as supreme authorities.

* It restricts movement within North Korea and prohibits emigration, saying it will execute those who try to flee.

* It withholds wages and food as punishment and if people try to step out of line, the North can relocate them to the most destitute regions of the impoverished state or force them to work in its most dangerous industries.

* It controls freedom of thought through strict government control of all academic and artistic works.

* It controls all media. TVs and radios only have switches to turn on and off and adjust volume. They are set to only receive state broadcasts. (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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