Crime suspects arrested in North Korea are routinely tortured and humiliated in detention, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released Monday. “You are worth less than an animal,” said one of the respondents.
It report is based on interviews with 22 North Koreans who fled the country after 2011. In that year, Kim Jong-un came to power. Some former officials who have fled have also been questioned. They provided insight into how the judicial system in North Korea works.
The report shows that suspects consistently stay in cells that are too small and unsanitary, receive hardly any food and are forced to make false statements. Female suspects are not infrequently sexually abused. “People have very good reasons to fear arrest and detention in North Korea,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of HRW Asia, said. The Guardian.
According to Robertson, a suspect can only get out of these indignities if he or she has money to bribe police officers, prison guards and prosecutors or if he or she has good connections.
Suspects who have just been arrested are invariably kicked or beaten with sticks, according to witnesses. “According to the rules hitting is not allowed, but we need a confession during the preliminary investigation and you only get that with a caning,” said a former police officer in the report.
It is the first time that a report on the judicial system in North Korea has appeared. The country is very closed, which makes it difficult to gain insight into how things work within national borders.