There are consistent and credible accounts of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment in detention facilities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Such acts may amount to violation of the Convention against torture and other international norms prohibiting torture in all its forms, but may also constitute the crimes against humanity of imprisonment, torture, enslavement, or “other inhumane acts of a similar character causing serious injury to body or to mental or physical health”. Former inmates have reported being subjected to beatings, psychological abuse, forced labour, deprivation of food and lack of access to health-care or sanitation. OHCHR’s 2020 report on human rights violations against women detained in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea documented that women suffer humiliating and degrading treatment, sometimes amounting to sexual violence, including during invasive body searches. The 2014 Commission of Inquiry estimated 80,000 to 120,000 persons were being held in political prisons. These detention facilities remain shrouded in secrecy, with the authorities continuing to deny their existence.
I Still Feel the Pain: Human Rights Violations against Women in the DPRK