Nearly 1,400 North Koreans were executed under the Kim Jong-un regime from 2008 to 2014, according to a report released by the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), Wednesday.
The 455-page report, "White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2015," showed that 1,382 were killed during the period.
KINU said its findings were based on the testimony of 221 people who defected from North Korea to South Korea in 2014. It added the witnesses were chosen based on their social backgrounds and demographic characteristics.
"We believe there were a number of executions that were not witnessed by those whom we interviewed," an official at KINU's strategy and public relations team said on condition of anonymity.
The white paper showed that North Korea's state-perpetrated violations of human rights are still prevalent despite the United Nations' pressure to end its crimes against humanity.
In particular, the reclusive state increasingly has executed people in recent years for watching and circulating films, TV dramas and other media content produced by South Korea, the report said.
It pointed out that such a wide use of the death penalty contradicts Pyongyang's claim in a report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council in January 2014.
Back then, the Stalinist country said it carried out the death penalty only under "extremely limited circumstances."
The KINU report showed people detained at a range of facilities such as prisons are tortured, while enduring a lack of nutrition, medical attention and hygiene.
It said people are exiled from their hometowns because of their family backgrounds, criminal record and the country's economic development plan.
Since late 2013, the natives of Samjiyon County, a northeastern part of the country, have been subject to internal exile if they and their family members served in prisons, were caught attempting to flee the country, or have parents who were peasants.
Samjiyon County, which is in Ryanggang Province, is purportedly the hometown of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
The report said members of some 600 households in Musan, North Hamgyeong Province and surrounding regions were forcibly moved out of their hometowns in 2013 under Kim Jong-un's order to develop the area as "a model city."
The white paper is published in Korean. Its English version will be available in August. The KINU report has been published in both Korean and English every year since 1996.
The U.N. launched its human rights office in Seoul on June 23 to better monitor and record North Korea's human rights abuses. The office was set up in accordance with a U.N. Commission of Inquiry's (COI) report in February last year. It accused the tyrannical regime of running political prison camps where up to 120,000 people are thought to be detained.
Based on the COI report, the U.N. General Assembly in December 2014 passed a resolution that calls for the referral of Kim Jong-un to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, The Netherlands.
Source: Korea Times, July 1, 2015
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