Home > Events
REPORT FINDINGS: Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons
Date and Time:
December 12, 2017 09:30 am ~ December 12, 2017 10:45 am
National Press Club, First Amendment Room, 529 14th St NW, Washington DC.
Judge Navi Pillay (Inquiry Chair)
Host Organization:



The War Crimes Committee of the International Bar Association invites you to the launch of a Report on the findings of a nearly two-year Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons.  The Inquiry Report finds reasonable grounds to conclude that Kim Jong-un and members of his regime have committed ten of the eleven crimes against humanity enumerated in the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The event will be held at the National Press Club from 9:30-10:45am on Tuesday, December 12.

Under the auspices of the War Crimes Committee, three internationally renowned judges - Navanethem 'Navi' Pillay (Chair), Thomas Buergenthal and Mark Harmon - led the Inquiry and authored the Report.  Judge Navi Pillay will deliver keynote remarks at the December 12 event.  Among other things, Judge Pillay has served as a judge on the International Criminal Court, as President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008-2014.  Greg Kehoe of the IBA's War Crimes Committee also will deliver remarks.  Among other things, Mr. Kehoe, a former federal prosecutor, led the team of lawyers and investigators that advised the Iraqi Special Tribunal, an ad hoc court formed to prosecute Saddam Hussein and other regime officials.

The Report contains nine (9) Calls for Action, including a call for the UN to provide the International Criminal Court or a special international tribunal with jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those responsible for committing crimes against humanity in North Korea's political prisons, known as kwanliso .  The Report also calls on North Korea to dismantle its gulag system and release an estimated 80,000-130,000 political prisoners.  (Note: this figure includes scores of children, spouses, parents, etc., who have been imprisoned pursuant to North Korea's longstanding policy of eliminating the "seed" of three generations of "class enemies.") Further, it calls for targeted sanctions against persons responsible for past or ongoing crimes against humanity in North Korea's political prisons, as well as a ban on the importation of products made with materials or labor from North Korea's penal system.

Relying on satellite imagery and the testimony of numerous defectors - including North Korea's highest ranking defector in recent years, Thae Yong-ho - the Report debunks North Korea's ongoing denial of the very existence of its political prisons, which Amnesty International describes as "very possibly home to some of the most appalling torture in the world."  Evidence of crimes presented to the Inquiry included:

  • prisoners tortured and killed on account of their religious affiliation, with officials instructed "to wipe out the seed of [Christian] reactionaries"
  • a prisoner's newborn baby being fed to guard dogs and killed
  • an abortion induced by three men standing on a wooden plank placed on a pregnant prisoner's stomach
  • a female prisoner losing consciousness after enduring a beating designed to trigger premature labor, with prison officials killing her baby before she could regain consciousness
  • the deaths of countless prisoners as a result of deliberate starvation, malnutrition and overwork, including 16-hour shifts in coal mines for minors and adults alike
  • routine public executions carried out in front of prisoners of all ages, including young children

Finally, Hogan Lovells, an international law firm that previously has worked to raise awareness of human rights abuses in North Korea, provided very significant pro bono assistance to the Inquiry.

Thank you for giving this your consideration. We hope to see you at the National Press Club on December 12th.


RSVP to this event by e-mailing: [email protected]

North Korea’s Long-term Prison-Labor Facility Kyo-hwa-so No. 1, Kaech’ŏn
Joseph S. Bermudez, Greg Scarlatoiu, Amanda M. Oh, & Rosa Park
Mar 25, 2020

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C., has launched a report titled North Korea’s Long-term Prison-labor Facility Kyo-hwa-so No. 1, Kaech’on. This report is part of a comprehensive long-term project undergone by HRNK to use satellite imagery and survivor testimony to shed light on human suffering in North Korea. This study combines former prisoner testimony collected in 2019 with declassified satellite imagery


THE REPORT IS EMBARGOED UNTIL 12:01 AM FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2019THE REPORT IS EMBARGOED UNTIL 12:01 AM FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2019. Lost Generation: The Health and Human Rights of North Korean Children, 1990–2018 is a nearly thirty-year study monitoring the health and human rights conditions of North Korean children. “Health” is defined by the World Health Organization as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well being, and not merely the absence of dis