North Korea remained one of the most repressive countries in the world in 2020. Under the reign of Kim Jong Un, the third leader of the nearly 75-year-old Kim dynasty, the totalitarian government deepened repression and maintained frightening obedience by threatening execution, imprisonment, enforced disappearance and forced labor. Due to border closures and travel restrictions put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19, the country has become more isolated than ever and authorities have tightened already strict restrictions on communication with the outside world. For example, the government has strengthened enforcement of the ban on “illegal” travel to China, including executing people caught red-handed trying to escape. In August, the government created buffer zones one or two kilometers from the northern border, where guards were ordered to “shoot unconditionally” at anyone entering without permission. Also under the pretext of preventing Covid-19, the North Korean navy shot and killed a 47-year-old South Korean fisheries official on a boat near North Korea`s western border on September 22. The North Korean government uses songbun, a socio-economic political classification system created when the country was founded that divides people into different classes, including “loyal,” “hesitant,” or “hostile,” discriminating against lower-class individuals in areas such as employment, residence, and education. Pervasive corruption allows for some maneuvers around restrictions on the Songbun system, with government officials accepting bribes to allow exceptions to Songbun rules, expediting or issuing permits, granting access to certain market activities, or avoiding possible sanctions. The government has also introduced drastic quarantines for anyone arriving from abroad in border towns, ports and airports. North Koreans returning to the country through northern border towns have not been given the opportunity to quarantine at home and have reportedly been quarantined in government-designated facilities with little food (three meals a day, consisting of a bowl of boiled rice and crushed corn and soup), inadequate medical treatment and a lack of basic necessities such as electricity. some up to 40 or 50 days. North Korea. 2021.
Website. www.loc.gov/item/guide-to-law-online/north-korea/. North Korea in the worldInternational and multilateral agreements The DPRK is part of the party Despite the health measures related to Covid-19, the Chinese government reportedly forcibly returned North Koreans in March. South Korean media with contacts in North Korea reported cases in which the North Korean government rejected Chinese proposals to repatriate North Korean refugees in February and October. North Korea has a codified civil justice system inherited from colonial Japan, similar to the South Korean system. As of December 2015, there were 236 laws and regulations, about half of which concerned economic management. Foreign investment laws are well developed and up-to-date, and there is a sophisticated arbitration system.   Travelling from one province to another or abroad without prior permission remains illegal in North Korea. North Korea continued to disrupt China`s mobile phone services at the border and arrested people caught communicating with people abroad, violating the right to information and freedom of expression. Despite North Korea`s rejection of diplomatic engagement, South Korean President Moon Jae-in`s government has sought to establish better relations with Pyongyang in 2020, ostensibly to appease North Korea.
The South Korean government has not adopted a clear policy on human rights issues in North Korea and has not supported important resolutions on North Korea`s human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly in 2020. The government continued to restrict all fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, religion, and conscience, freedom of assembly, and association, and banned the political opposition, independent media, civil society, and trade unions. “DPRK: References to children`s rights in the Universal Periodic Review”International Network for the Rights of the Child The North Korean government regularly and systematically demands forced labor of a large part of its population – including women and children – through the Women`s Union or schools; workers in state-owned enterprises or abroad; prisoners in forced labour prisons (Rodong Dallyeondae); and prisoners in ordinary prison camps (Kyohwaso) and political prison camps (Kwanliso) – to control its population and maintain its economy. A significant number of North Koreans have to do unpaid work at some point in their lives, often referred to as a “show of loyalty.” Women and girls in North Korea suffer from widespread gender discrimination, high levels of sexual violence and harassment, and constant exposure to state-sponsored gender stereotypes, in addition to abuse by the general population. Below is an up-to-date list of North Korean laws currently available in English. The Centre declines all responsibility for their content. Networks that facilitate the flight of North Koreans to safe third countries have reported extreme hardship due to Covid-19 health measures and checkpoints, as well as other existing obstacles to freedom of movement in countries people are passing through. Many North Koreans should have been hiding in safe homes in China for months as the Chinese government continued to intercept North Korean refugees and attempt to bring them back, in violation of China`s obligation to protect them under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. North Korea`s failure to promote economic rights has led to increased damage to the population in 2020.
On Jan. 1, Kim Jong Un told a major party meeting that North Korea must “tighten its belt” and find ways to become self-reliant. However, the government maintained its priority for the development of strategic weapons, prompting the UN Security Council to maintain harsh economic sanctions. The government regularly forces many North Koreans, who are not free to choose their own jobs, to join paramilitary labor brigades (dolgyeokdae) controlled and run by the ruling party, which work mainly on building and infrastructure projects. Theoretically, they are entitled to a salary, but in many cases, the Dolyeokdae do not compensate them. Human traffickers and brokers, often associated with government officials, subject women in China to forced labor, sexual exploitation, and sexual slavery, including through forced marriage. On 28 July 2020, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a report stating that women forcibly returned from China to North Korea were being detained without due process and due process and subsequently subjected to gross human rights violations. During their detention, women were deprived of food, sexual violence, infanticide and forced labour, and were held in overcrowded prisons with unsafe conditions.
On 9 June, Tomás Ojea-Quintana, Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, recommended that the North Korean government seek more international assistance to prevent the spread of the virus and make all public health data, give citizens free access to electronic communications and global news, and allow international humanitarian organizations access to the country. The government did not respond. While US-led efforts to put human rights abuses in North Korea on the UN Security Council`s agenda as a threat to international peace and security between 2014 and 2017 have not done so since 2018, there has been no formal Council discussion of North Korea`s record in 2020. However, the U.S. government continued to impose human rights sanctions on North Korean government agencies, as well as Kim Jong Un and several other senior officials. The United States continued to fund human rights organizations in North Korea. North Korea remained one of seven UN member states not to join the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2020.