Human Rights Group Locates North Korean Execution Sites


The Seoul-based Transitional Justice Working Group said Tuesday it has identified hundreds of spots where witnesses claim North Korea carried out public executions and extrajudicial state killings as part of an arbitrary and aggressive use of the death penalty that is meant to intimidate its citizens.

The human rights group said its research was based on interviews with 610 North Korean defectors conducted over four years who helped locate the sites with satellite imagery. The group also said it documented three sites where people died while in detention and 25 sites where the dead were allegedly disposed of by the state.

A 2014 United Nations report on North Korea’s human rights conditions, said state authorities carry out executions, “with or without trial, publicly or secretly,” in response to political and other crimes that are often not among the most serious offenses. The report said that while public executions were more common in the 1990s, North Korea continues to carry them out for the purpose of instilling fear in the general population.

The report’s findings show arbitrary executions and extrajudicial killings under state custody have continued under the rule of young leader Kim Jong Un despite international criticism over how North Korea supposedly applies the death penalty without due judicial process.

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