With global attention focused on North Korea’s threat to launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack, the UN Human Rights Council vote to establish a commission of inquiry into “crimes against humanity” in the repressive totalitarian state went largely unnoticed, say Jared Genser and Kristen Abrams:
But not by us. ….The need for such an inquiry couldn’t be clearer. North Korea is one of history’s worst human-rights and humanitarian disasters. The Kim regime holds as many as 200,000 people in a vast gulag known as the kwan-li-so. Under the guilt-by-association system established more than 50 years ago during the dictatorship of Kim Il Sung, real and imagined dissenters and their relatives are punished through backbreaking labor, starvation and sexual violence. Those who get sick are isolated and left without treatment to die. Those who run afoul of the stringent camp rules are tortured or executed.
“Of course, there is no guaranteed outcome here—of the investigation, of the commission’s ultimate recommendations, or of their prospects for adoption,” say Genser and Abrams, who serve as pro bono counsel to the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea.
“But in a place as dark and hopeless as North Korea, its suffering people—at least those lucky enough to learn of it despite state censorship and then whisper it to friends—will welcome the newfound sense of urgency for action,” they write for The Wall Street Journal.