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New Report Documents Rights Abuses in North Korea’s Pre-Trial Detention Facilities

Eugene Whong

Illustration of a North Korean pre-trial detention and investigation facility (kuryujang) based on former detainees’ testimonies told to Human Rights Watch and the illustrator’s personal experience in detentionChoi Seong Guk for Human Rights Watch Via RFA

North Koreans awaiting criminal trial routinely endure beatings and starvation in overcrowded, unsanitary cells with no access to legal representation, according to a new report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

In interviews with HRW, eight former North Korean officials and 22 former detainees who fled the country since leader Kim Jong Un came to power in 2011 describe systematic torture, dangerous jail conditions, and unpaid forced labor in a system where guilt is presumed before the trial begins.

“North Korea’s pretrial detention and investigation system is arbitrary, violent, cruel, and degrading,” said Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director.

“North Koreans say they live in constant fear of being caught in a system where official procedures are usually irrelevant, guilt is presumed, and the only way out is through bribes and connections.”

In Worth Less Than an Animal: Abuses and Due Process Violations in Pretrial Detention in North Korea, Lim Ok Kyung, one of the former detainees, described extremely harsh conditions when she was arrested in 2014 for having appliances smuggled from China in her house.

Because she was very well-connected through her marriage to a mid-level member of the Korean Workers’ Party, she got off with a relatively light 10 days – but even then the physical abuse increased daily, she told HRW.

“The investigator didn’t hit me at the waiting cell. But they hit me during questioning… First, they said to write everything, everything from the moment of my birth until the present. I had to write my whole story for hours,” she said in the report.

“The next day the preliminary examination officer came in, said what I wrote was a lie, and asked me to write it again…. When things didn’t match, he slapped me in the face…. Beatings were hardest the first day,” said Lim.

Lim also described being beaten or kicked by guards passing her cell, and being forced to stand without sleep for five consecutive days.

“When a police guard I knew came in, they’d give me candy saying I was suffering, they’d let me sit and rest. But when the guards I didn’t know were in charge of watching me… they wouldn’t let me sleep,” she said.

Yoon Young Cheol was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of being a spy and was beaten severely upon arrival at the detention center, but he did not learn why he was arrested until the next day.

“They put me in a waiting cell. It was small and I was alone. They searched my body. Afterwards, the head of the city’s secret police department, the party’s political affairs head, and the investigator came in. It was very serious, but I didn’t know why. They just beat me up for 30 minutes, they kicked me with their boots, and punched me with their fists, everywhere on my body,” said Yoon.

“The next day they moved me to the next room, which was a detention and interrogation facility cell, and my preliminary examination started. But the questioning didn’t really have any protocols or procedures. They just beat me…. The preliminary examiner hit me violently first… I asked, ‘Why? Why? Why?’ but I didn’t get an answer…. As the questioning went on, I found out that I had been reported as a spy,” he said.

Yoon said he was beaten constantly at the beginning, but towards the end of his month-long examination, they tapered off after he finally confessed. Six months later the secret police determined he was not a spy, but the police then investigated him further on smuggling charges and he was sentenced to five years hard labor.

The former government officials, meanwhile, told HRW that mistreatment and humiliation are “a crucial part of the North Korean criminal justice system.”

“The North Korean authorities should bring the system out of the dark ages by asking for international assistance to create a professional police force and investigative system that relies on evidence instead of torture to solve crimes,” said Adams.

A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights said that North Korea’s criminal justice system and its related systematic human rights violations amounted to crimes against humanity.

“These crimes include murder, extermination, imprisonment, enslavement, persecution, as well as enforced disappearances of and sexual violence perpetrated against North Koreans in prison and in detention after forced repatriation,” the COI said.

HRW recommended that South Korea, the U.S., Japan, the EU and other countries continue to put pressure both publicly and privately on Pyongyang to initiate reforms to the penal system, support future efforts to document the situation in North Korea, and help North Korea bring its criminal justice system up to international standards.

The report noted a lack of accurate data coming out of North Korea regarding pretrial detention, and said that with most of the country off-limits to foreigners, there is no opportunity for accurate human rights research.

The U.S. State Dept. in 2016 estimated that the country’s total prison population was between 80,000 and 120,000.

Copyright © 1998-2020, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036. https://www.rfa.org

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How to identify Fake News or Messages on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they a.re developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

Without evidence or with fake evidence, a conspiracy theory will always remain a conspiracy theory.

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+916289017966

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