Groups want end to 'prison camps'
Rights coalition calls for international pressure against Pyongyang
A watchdog coalition marked Human Rights Day on Saturday with a plea for international action to stop human rights violations in North Korea. The appeal came from the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK), formed in Tokyo in September and comprising more than 40 human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. It is campaigning for a United Nations commission of inquiry on the issue. “If International Human Rights Day and the values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are to mean anything, the international community should take action to end impunity in North Korea,” said David Hawk, a visiting scholar at Columbia University, in a statement released by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), another of the groups in ICNK. “The best possible way we can mark this important anniversary is by establishing an investigation into crimes against humanity in the world’s most closed nation,” said Hawk, author of The Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea’s Prison Camps. “The principles we celebrate in International Human Rights Day … are universal,” said Benedict Rogers, CSW’s East Asia team leader. The world must say “enough” to Kim Jong-il’s regime, he added. “The establishment of a UN commission of inquiry is long overdue, and action to end the misery in the prison camps is urgently needed.”