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Activists petition U.N. to confirm N. Korean defectors' whereabouts

All News 18:07 July 20, 2016

SEOUL, July 20 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean civic rights group on Wednesday submitted to the United Nations a report containing cases of North Korea's human rights abuses and calling for it to confirm whether or not North Korean defectors who have been forcibly sent back to their home country are still alive.

Officials from the North Korean Human Rights Improvement Center visited the Seoul-based U.N. Office on North Korean Human Rights earlier in the day to present the report ultimately to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights' Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

Drawn up based on the outcome of a survey of North Koreans who defected to South Korea from last October to now, the report details the North Korean regime's crimes against humanity, including illegal detainment in prison camps, secret executions, violations of the freedom of speech, torture and beatings.

"The North Korean authorities carry illegal probes into and unimaginable tortures against its seized defectors pertinent to their leader Kim Jong-un's instructions," Lee Han-byeol, head of the center, said at a press conference.

He stressed that the U.N. should periodically make public the systematic inhumane crimes committed by the North Korean leadership in order to put the brakes on the North continuing to do them.

"The U.N. also should help confirm the life or death of defectors who were forcibly taken back to their country by pressuring the North, and aggressively help them get out of there," Lee said.

The North Korean leader should be referred to the International Criminal Court for rights abuses even before the reunification of the Korean Peninsula, he added.

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