Thursday, October 29, 2015

North Korea workers sent abroad for forced labor, says UN expert

The UN's expert on North Korea has said that thousands of its citizens are sent to work in foreign countries for wages that end up in government coffers. Their work is earning Pyongyang billions, says Marzuki Darusman...

A UN rights expert said on Wednesday that Pyongyang was increasingly sending its citizens to work abroad in slave-like conditions in order to earn hard currency. Some 50,000 North Koreans have been sent to foreign countries, usually China and Russia, said UN special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman.

"DPRK nationals have been sent to work in many parts of the world, laboring under conditions that amount to a subjection to forced labor, both by their own and host governments," Darusman said, warning that countries where these workers are employed "become complicit in an unacceptable system."

Forced labors earning billions

Presenting his annual report to the General Assembly, which is set this year to adopt a resolution condemning North Korea's human rights record, Darusman said the forced labor of North Koreans amounted to some $1.2 billion to $2.3 billion per year for Pyongyang.

The overseas work is negotiated by Pyongyang, Darusman said, and laborers are not told about the details of their contracts. They are then sent abroad, not only to Russia and China but also countries like Kuwait and Poland, to work in industries such as construction, mining, logging, and textile manufacturing.

  • Earlier this year, a Qatari construction company sent some 90 North Koreans back to their homeland, after they had been forced by their supervisors to work 12 hours a day and given little food.

Darusman said it was apparent that Pyongyang imposes a "near-total denial of human rights," on its citizens.

The special rapporteur then renewed his call for the UN to refer the North Korean government to the International Criminal Court, a move which would likely be blocked by ally China if it were to move forward.
es/bw (AFP, dpa)
  • DPR Korea: UN rights expert ‘deeply regrets’ unchanged human rights situation

UN, 28 October 2015 – The international community was strongly urged today by a UN rights expert to maintain effective and meaningful efforts to address the continued dire human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“This has been a year of intensified action, particularly in the follow up to the landmark Commission of Inquiry report on the human rights situation the DPRK, of which I was a member,” Marzuki Darusman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the country, told reporters in New York, following a presentation to the Third Committee – the Organization’s main body dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues.

“The commission concluded that a number of long-standing and ongoing patterns of systematic and widespread violations in the DPRK met the high threshold required for crimes against humanity in international law,” he continued, noting that since his last appearance before the General Assembly, numerous efforts have been undertaken to follow up on the findings and recommendations by the independent commission and other UN bodies.

Mr. Darusman also informed the press that he visited the new headquarters in Seoul of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and had “a very fruitful discussion” with the team. He said they have started implementing their mandate, to strengthen monitoring capacity and documentation recording of the human rights situation in the DPRK.

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council also convened an historic first of its kind panel discussion on the human rights situation in the DPRK last September, including on the issue of international abductions and enforced disappearances and related matters................

1 comment:

  1. North Koreans sent abroad into 'forced labour', says UN...

    As many as 50,000 North Koreans have been sent abroad to work in conditions that amount to "forced labour", a UN investigator has said.

    Marzuki Darusman said workers earn very little, are underfed and are sometimes forced to work up to 20-hour days.

    Employers pay "significantly higher amounts" directly to the North Korean government, he said in his report.

    The majority of the workers are in China and Russia, mainly in the mining, textile and construction industries.

    But Mr Darusman, the special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, also listed countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe,

    He said the companies who hire North Korean workers "become complicit in an unacceptable system of forced labour".

    The workers are providing a source of hard currency to a country in a "really tight financial and economic situation".

    He estimated that North Korea was earning $1.2bn-$2.3bn (£790m-£1.5bn) from the foreign worker system every year.

    Since 2006, North Korea has been under international sanction for its nuclear weapons tests resulting in a shortage of foreign currency.


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