North Korea treats detainees "worse than animals," says Human Rights Watch

Torture, humiliation and coerced confessions are rife in the North Korean justice system, which treats detainees "worse than animals," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Monday.

Torture, humiliation and coerced confessions are rife in the North Korean justice system, which treats detainees "worse than animals," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Monday. The US-based human rights organization claims to have interviewed dozens of former detainees as well as North Korean officials and denounces the situation in detention centers in North Korea, where torture is prevalent. often practiced.

Accused of large-scale human rights violations, North Korea is a "closed" country and little is known about the functioning of its justice system. Those interviewed claimed that the pre-trial detention is "particularly harsh" and that detainees are mistreated, often beaten. "The regulations say that detainees must not be beaten but we need a confession during the investigation," said a former police officer. "So you have to hit them to get the confession," he admitted.

Women victims of sexual assault

Ex-detainees have said they were forced to kneel or sit on their legs crossed without moving for sometimes sixteen hours at a stretch, when any action resulted in punishment. They were then beaten with sticks, leather belts or even punches and had to run around the prison yard a thousand times in circles. "There you are treated worse than an animal, which is what you end up being," former inmate Yoon Young Cheol said.

Women interviewed said they had been sexually assaulted. Kim Sun Young, a former trader in her 50s who fled North Korea in 2015, said she was raped by her investigator at a detention center. Another police officer touched during her interrogation, she added, saying she did not have the strength to oppose. In its report, HRW calls on Pyongyang to "end endemic and cruel torture, as well as degrading and inhuman treatment in detention centers."

HRW is urging South Korea, the United States and other UN member countries to "put pressure on the North Korean government." In general, North Korea claims to respect human rights and affirms that criticism from the international community represents a smear campaign aimed at "undermining the sacred socialist system".

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