NewsPublic executions for Covid-19 breaches in North Korea, warns Rights Group

Public executions for Covid-19 breaches in North Korea, warns Rights Group

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
Images source: © Getty Images | Mikhail Svetlov
2:12 PM EST, January 10, 2024

The Korean Institute of National Unification revealed this alarming information about harsh penalties for minor offenses in a "white paper" on Wednesday. This paper is part of a series documenting severe human rights and freedom violations. The institute's findings are based on recent testimonials from refugees who escaped from North Korea across its heavily fortified border.

Nevertheless, the institute has not disclosed explicit details about these public executions, including the time and method of execution. This level of generality is necessary to protect the family members and close associates of the escapees, as the North Korean government could use such specifics to track down and target their relatives.

Korean Institute of National Unification reports public executions in North Korea

The newly published data are derived from interviews with 70 refugees who fled to South Korea between 2018 and 2023. According to the experts, these testimonies suggest a decline in public executions during this period compared to earlier years. However, they caution that it is premature to regard this as a consistent pattern. The possibility that executions are taking place beyond the public eye cannot be ruled out.

North Korea has long been accused of severe human rights abuses, including political prisoners being held in concentration camps and torture. Under Kim Jong Un's regime, the death sentence is permissible.

The North Korean government aims to tighten its grip on its citizens by steadily expanding the range of crimes punishable by death. The rules brought in to tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic have also been added to the list of capital offenses. However, according to refugee testimonies, the government did not provide essential medical care, medication, or access to medical professionals amidst these prohibitions.

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