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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) plans to establish an integrated online information management system on North Korean human rights, a tender proposal for potential bidders seen by NK News this week showed.
The ministry said it was necessary to accumulate data, including details on victims, perpetrators, and prison camps, to upgrade the Center for North Korean Human Rights Records’ previously “manual” information-gathering.
The center was launched in September 2016 to “collect and record information with the aim of improving human rights situation of the North Korean people based on Article 13 of the North Korean Human Rights Act,” which was made law in March that year.
The absence of an automated system, however, reportedly made information-sharing within the organization difficult, the MOU said in the request released in late March.
The unification ministry allocated KRW1,255 billion (USD $1,169,218) to the project, and organizations can submit their applications for the bidding between April 25 and 27.
The unification ministry is seeking a subcontractor to commission a project “establishing the integrated information system on North Korean human rights,” which must be completed by the end of November.
The online platform will include an archive of North Korean human rights violations through the tape-recording of investigations, recorded videos, and composite sketches of the perpetrators.
The MOU previously created composite sketches of North Korean human rights violators through interviews with 253 defectors between January and March last year.
The ministry also plans to categorize information on the DPRK human rights situation by type of infringement, facility, and location, among others.
Information on various types of figures including victims, references and witnesses will be registered and retrievable on the new system.
It will also enable users to look up information on perpetrators of human rights violations, including names, organizations, and positions.
The system, notably, will register and manage detailed information on facilities including forced labor prisons and re-education camps.
Geographic information system (GIS) information will be added to identify and visualize detention facilities, defection routes, and the locations in which incidents took place.
The type of infringement of human rights in the DPRK will be categorized in accordance with civil, political, and social rights.
The ministry also plans to build a system showing the relations between violations and existing international and national laws including the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and criminal law from both Koreas.
“The awareness of the North Korean authorities can be raised and further human rights violations can be prevented by systematically recording and preserving organized and anti-humanitarian criminal acts of the authorities,” the MOU said.
“It will provide the foundation for establishing and promoting the consistent and systematic policies on North Korean human rights.”
Apart from the human rights violations in the DPRK, the MOU said it was planning a detailed investigation on issues concerning the human rights of Korean War prisoners, abductees detained in the DPRK, and separated families.
“It is necessary to systematically manage basic data used for punishing the perpetrators, reliving the victims, regaining their honor and integrating the society after unification,” the MOU also said in the proposal.
The system will be linked to external human rights organizations, with the Center for North Korean Human Rights Records seeking to connect the online system to the North Korean Human Rights Documentation Office: an organization affiliated with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).
The center, which is run by the unification ministry, will transfer records involving cases of human rights violations to the MOJ.
The MOU says it hopes to increase public support and awareness on human rights violations taking place in North Korea.
“National and international support for the government’s human rights policy can be increased by releasing the result of the investigation,” it said.
Edited by Oliver Hotham