A South Korean government-run organization has tracked down and identified hundreds of North Koreans it says are responsible for human rights violations, South Korean lawmaker Yoon Sang-jick said on Monday.
The North Korean Human Rights Documentation Office, an organization affiliated with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), was established in October last year and had identified the 245 offenders by late September.
Most of the accused were identified as belonging to the country’s “power apparatus”: the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of People’s Security.
“Their suspicions not only include harsh acts including assault on citizens and torture but also anti-humanitarian contents including sexual assault and compulsory abortion,” Yoon, also a member of the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee, said in a written statement.
“The government plans to build a database of the relevant information by the end of this year, and this is expected to be evidence that [Seoul] will hold them criminally liable after unification,” Yoon added, citing a report submitted to him by the justice ministry.
Seoul has obtained information on the offenders’ workplaces, position, and mugshots, but has been able to name only five percent of the accused.
The violations are being organized through so-called “North Korean human rights offender cards” to preserve and manage materials.
“This card is a document that records personal information and allegation of each perpetrator as the authorities collect and analyze cases of violating human rights which North Korean defectors experienced, witnessed or heard about,” Yoon said, adding that this is “first time” the government had “directly” tracked North Korean state violence.
The North Korean Human Rights Documentation Office is composed of 12 officers, including three prosecutors, and developed the list through testimony provided by North Korean defectors to the Ministry of Unification (MOU).
The MOU’s Center for North Korean Human Rights Records – established in September 2016 – then transferred “records involving cases of human rights violations” to the MOJ-affiliated documentation office.
The justice ministry is due to receive an additional 110 questionaries from the MOU this month, with the number of the North Korean human rights violators expected to increase.
One case heard by investigators was of a North Korean woman who, at eight months pregnant, was given a forced abortion at a detention center after being repatriated to the DPRK.
The unification ministry said on Monday that it was compiling a record of North Korean perpetrators “as part of efforts to understand and improve human rights situation in the North.”
Ministry’s spokesperson Baik Tae-hyun, however, expressed reservations about the possibility of punishment for violators after unification.
“I believe the liquidation of the past after unification is an issue we can consider when the time comes,” he said.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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Featured Image: CPC_2499 1 by nknews_hq on 2017-02-03 17:39:45