The ICC and Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea

The ICC and Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea

 

Side event on the margins of 15the session of assembly of state parties session 21 November 2016, The Marriott Hotel, The Hague

 

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This event was organised by the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea together with the Sir Geoffrey Nice Foundation on Law, History, Politics, and Society in the Context of Mass Atrocities and the Giordano Bruno Foundation, and was co-hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

 

  • ORGANISER:
    • ICNK (International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea)
  • CO-ORGANISERS:
    • Geoffrey Nice Foundation on Law, History, Politics and Society in the Context of Mass Atrocities, Giordano Bruno Foundation
  • CO-HOST:
    • Embassy of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • SPEAKERS (in the order of presentation)
    • Kim Hyeong Soo, a defector who used to work at the Kim’s Family Health Care and Longevity Institute
    • Eunkyoung Kwon, Secretary General of ICNK
    • David Hawk, Member of ICNK Steering Committee and author on North Korea's Hidden Gulag
    • Nicolai Sprekels, Giordano-Bruno-Foundation/Chairman of Saram e.v.
    • Sir Geoffrey Nice, Prosecutor of Slobodan Milošević at the ICTY/Co-founder of Geoffrey Nice Foundation
  • SPECIAL GUESTS
    • Ms. Eung Kim – Chief of Human Rights Policy Division of the Ministry of Justice, South Korea
    • Judge O’Gon Kwon, South Korea
    • Judge Motoo Noguchi, the chair of the board of directors of the TFV (Trust Fund for Victims of the ICC), Japan
  • MODERATOR
    • Dr. Nevenka Tromp, University of Amsterdam

 

  • TOPICS
    • Appropriate strategies to ensure accountability for crimes against humanity committed by the authorities of the DPRK, especially through the International Criminal Court
    • Victims’ testimonies on human rights abuse - such as torture, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts amount to crimes against humanity - and criticism about the DPRK authorities responsible for such violation of human rights law
    • National mechanisms to exploit labour, which is allegedly pertinent to enslavement
    • Crimes against humanity committed in political prison camps, detention facilities and other institutions responsible for crimes against humanity
    • Why the soft diplomacy will not "open up" DPRK and is actually supporting - unintended – the Human Rights Crimes by the Regime
    • Referral to the ICC and the alternatives

In March 2016, stimulated by a recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry, the UN Human Rights Council established a group of independent experts to explore appropriate ways to seek accountability for crimes against humanity committed in the DPRK. The experts were asked to recommend mechanisms of accountability to secure truth and justice for the victims of such atrocities, including a referral to the ICC. The ‘side event’ on DPRK, to take place at the Assembly of States Parties Conference, will address the widespread and systematic attacks directed against civilians in the DPRK including torture, enforced disappearance, enslavement, and other inhumane acts. In addition to addressing possibilities of an ICC referral, this panel will also consider other available approaches how to stop human right abuses in DPRK and how to hold to account those responsible for these abuses.

 

PROCEDINGS

The event was attended by around 140 people including a number of distinguished delegates and guests including the Director of the Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The panel event, moderated by Dr Nevenka Tromp, consisted of a number of distinguished speakers, which looked at the issues involved from a number of different perspectives. The event addressed the widespread and systematic attacks directed at civilians in the DPRK including torture, enforced disappearance, enslavement, and other inhumane acts, and identified means other than through the ICC to stop gross human rights abuses in the DPRK that may establish accountability of perpetrators. To that end the issues and topics for discussion by the panel included: appropriate strategies for ensuring accountability for crimes against humanity committed by the authorities of the DPRK; victims’ testimonies on human rights abuses; national mechanisms to exploit labour which can amount to enslavement; crimes against humanity committed in political prison camps located inside the DPRK; the potential role for ‘soft-diplomacy’ in relation to North Korea; and the potential for a referral of the situation in North Korea to the International Criminal Court.

Before the panellists began their interventions, the audience had the privilege of hearing briefly from His Excellency Judge O-Gon Kwon who emphasised the importance of the panel that had been convened and the need to address the issues that it would consider. Following this we heard from the first speaker, Kim Hyeong Soo, a defector of the North Korean regime, who spokeabout his experiences of living inside North Korea and his escape, providing an insight into the extent of the repressive nature of the state. Mr Hyeong Soo was asked by an audience member whether he still had contact with his wife or other family in North Korea, and he replied that his wife now lives with him in South Korea having also managed to escape and that he maintained contact with some individuals in North Korea who were able to communicate with him by using Chinese mobile phones. Next we heard from Eunkyoung Kwon, Secretary General of the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) who has been recognised for her work is helping to establish the UN Commission of Inquiry on North Korea. Eunkyoung Kwon spoke about the use of forced labour by the North Korean regime which, she said, amounts to slavery and a crime against humanity.

Prof. David Hawk, prominent human rights researcher and advocate, a member of the steering committee of ICNK, author of North Korea’s Hidden Gulag and former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, addressed the audience on the content of his research, and particularly his book. He spoke about the political work camps that had been established by the regime and of crimes against humanity clearly committed in those camps. His accounts were all based on information obtained from interviews with former detainees of the camps who had either escaped or been released and then defected, or from former prison guards who had also defected to the Republic of Korea. He also spoke about how some of the camps, including Camp 22, had been closed and that the fate of the prisoners was unknown. He explained the role of satellite imagery in establishing the existence and location of the political prison camps which corroborates the testimony of former prisoners and guards. Prof. Hawk was asked a question from the audience about whether the internal structure and organisation of the North Korean regime was well understand and he explained that it was, in fact, quite well understood because of the information that had been provided by defectors.

Nicolai Sprekels of the Giordano Bruno Foundation spoke to the audience about the fact that his organisation had established that North Korean citizens were being used as slave labour by companies operating in European states. He explained that such individuals would be closely guarded by North Korean officials, would not be allowed to interact with society in the European countries, and that their meagre wages would be sent back to North Korea to support the regime. He said that this was a form of slavery which could be addressed by European states.

Finally, Sir Geoffrey Nice, Prosecutor of Slobodan Milosevic and Co-Founder of the Sir Geoffrey Nice Foundation, spoke to the audience about the means by which accountability for crimes against humanity committed by the North Korean regime can be established other than by traditional criminal justice mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court, which doesn’t have jurisdiction over the situation for two reasons: first, North Korea is not a ‘States Party’ to the Rome Statute and, second, there is no possibility, at the moment, of a referral of the situation to the Court by the UN Security Council because China would veto any proposed referral. Sir Geoffrey spoke of the importance of formal UN fact finding commissions of enquiry, like the one established for the situation in North Korea and which reported recently, and the power of informal tribunals for establishing historical records of crimes committed and identifying individual perpetrators, like the one established to consider the crimes committed by the Iranian revolutionary regime, with which Sir Geoffrey said he was involved.

After the panellists had concluded their interventions, the moderator took a number of questions from the floor. The first comments came from Ms. Eung Kim – Chief of Human Rights Policy Division of the Ministry of Justice of South Korea followed by Judge Motoo Noguchi, the chair of the board of directors of the TFV (Trust Fund for Victims of the ICC). A member of the audience asked the panel about what South Korea was doing in order to help those who defected from North Korea as it was his understanding from speaking with people who had defected that the support wasn’t available and that this led to many individuals returning to the DPRK. One of the panellists responded that there was a lot of help available from the South Korean government for defectors and that some people went back to the DPRK because of threats that were being made against their families. Another similar question raised was why there wasn’t pressure being put on the Chinese government to stop sending people who had escaped back to the DPRK in contravention of the principle of non-refoulement. The panel agreed that more need to be done to put pressure on China to stop sending people back.

 

 

GEOFFREY NICE FOUNDATION CO-ORGANISES a SIDE EVENT ICC AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN NORTH KOREA at the Assembly of State Parties of the ICC, 21 November 2016

A side event at the 15th Session of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC

Monday, 21 November 2016, 13:00-15:00 The Hague Marriott Hotel A1Room
(address: Johan De Wittlaan 30 2517 JR Den Haag)
(Lunch provided from 12:30)

  • ORGANISER:
    • ICNK (International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea)
  • CO-ORGANISERS:
    • Geoffrey Nice Foundation on Law, History, Politics and Society in the Context of Mass Atrocities, Giordano Bruno Foundation
  • CO-HOST:
    • Embassy of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • SPEAKERS (in the order of presentation)
    • Kim Hyeong Soo, a defector who used to work at the Kim’s Family Health Care and Longevity Institute
    • Eunkyoung Kwon, Secretary General of ICNK
    • David Hawk, Member of ICNK Steering Committee and author on North Korea's Hidden Gulag
    • Nicolai Sprekels, Giordano-Bruno-Foundation/Chairman of Saram e.v.
    • Sir Geoffrey Nice, Prosecutor of Slobodan Milošević at the ICTY/Co-founder of Geoffrey Nice Foundation
  • MODERATOR
    • Dr. Nevenka Tromp, University of Amsterdam
  • TOPICS
    • Appropriate strategies to ensure accountability for crimes against humanity committed by the authorities of the DPRK, especially through the International Criminal Court
    • Victims’ testimonies on human rights abuse - such as torture, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts amount to crimes against humanity - and criticism about the DPRK authorities responsible for such violation of human rights law
    • National mechanisms to exploit labour, which is allegedly pertinent to enslavement
    • Crimes against humanity committed in political prison camps, detention facilities and other institutions responsible for crimes against humanity
    • Why the soft diplomacy will not "open up" DPRK and is actually supporting - unintended – the Human Rights Crimes by the Regime
    • Referral to the ICC and the alternatives

 

In March 2016, stimulated by a recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry, the UN Human Rights Council established a group of independent experts to explore appropriate ways to seek accountability for crimes against humanity committed in the DPRK. The experts were asked to recommend mechanisms of accountability to secure truth and justice for the victims of such atrocities, including a referral to the ICC. The ‘side event’ on DPRK, to take place at the Assembly of States Parties Conference, will address the widespread and systematic attacks directed against civilians in the DPRK including torture, enforced disappearance, enslavement, and other inhumane acts. In addition to addressing possibilities of an ICC referral, this panel will also consider other available approaches how to stop human right abuses in DPRK and how to hold to account those responsible for these abuses.

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