Open letter to the DPRK on reports of 80 public executions in November

Press release

On 11 November, international media reported the execution of 80 people in North Korea. The UN commission of inquiry on the human rights situation in North Korea was in Seoul a few days later to meet with some witnesses. In an open letter to the North Korean Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, FIDH demands an explanation.

Dear Ambassador,

The South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo has reported that on 3 November, as many as 80 people were publicly executed in your country. If confirmed, this would be profoundly shocking. FIDH, like thousands of civil society organizations worldwide, considers the death penalty as a violation of due process as well as a violation to the right to life, and a cruel, inhumane and degrading form of punishment. The international trend is already towards universal abolition. [1]

The silence of DPRK’s authorities on the matter may only lead to impunity and to an arbitrary application of the death penalty. FIDH is additionally concerned by the public character of the reported executions: according to JoongAng Ilbo, a crowd of 10,000 people was gathered at Shinpoong Stadium, in the city of Wonsan, to watch the execution by firing squad of 10 persons. Such a practice is incompatible with human dignity. The report by JoongAng Ilbo further specifies that the people were executed for insignificant acts, including watching South Korean movies or possessing a Bible, which are qualified by your government as offenses, in contradiction with international legal standards.

I hope to hear back from you and get clarifications about what happened.

Most sincerely,

Karim Lahidji, FIDH President

Mission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations in Geneva
1, chemin de Plonjon 1207 Geneva

Permanent Delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to UNESCO
Maison de l’UNESCO, Bureau MS2.36, 1 rue Miollis, 75732 Paris Cedex 15

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