December 2015 “War Cry” Interview on the plight of Refugees. See: https://davidalton.net/2015/07/10/2015-the-year-of-the-refugees-just-put-yourself-in-their-shoes-full-house-of-lords-debate-and-government-response-and-a-reply-from-a-north-korean-refugee/ ————————————————————- SUDAN December 17th 2015 Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, are we collecting systematic evidence to ensure that material goes before the International Criminal Court to bring to justice those who have been charged with genocide in Sudan? Reverting to the Question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, what humanitarian access is now available both in Darfur and in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where humanitarian agencies have been prohibited from reaching the desperate people in those places? Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I am aware that the UN independent expert has not yet returned to Sudan since his reappointment in October 2014, so we have not been able to test out whether he is able to gain access to Blue Nile and South Kordofan. We will watch to see what happens there. Humanitarian access across the border into the two areas is still judged to be so dangerous that very few organisations are able to commit to carrying out work. It is therefore difficult for Governments to fund them because it is difficult to judge what needs they are meeting and to be able to hold them to account. This is a matter on which we continue to press. With regard to collecting information, we work with NGOs that are very brave human rights defenders, and we provide assistance where we may, using tools such as the international protocol on the collection of information that may later be used for prosecutions. ————————————————————- Nigeria December 17th 2015 Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, did the Minister hear from her colleague, Tobias Ellwood, about the testimony given by Victoria Youhanna at a recent meeting here in Parliament? Victoria had escaped from Boko Haram. Given that hundreds of girls are still enslaved, abducted, forcibly converted, entrapped in domestic slavery, used as fighters and denied education, will the Minister—referring to the point the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, just made—tell us more about what can be done to ensure that girls are able to go back into education and that they are rehabilitated and given help in dealing with trauma? The words “Boko Haram” mean “destroy western education”, and it is therefore important that we show the importance that we attach, by contrast, to education. Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I have not heard the witness of that victim. I clearly sympathise with her experience. I have had the opportunity to hear witness from others about the appalling violence they suffered and witnessed. We regularly raise with the Nigerian authorities rescuing people being held by Boko Haram. We also work to support women and girls in northern Nigeria as part of our general humanitarian response. That includes helping the safe school initiative in north-eastern Nigeria. As part of our work on the prevention of sexual violence in conflict, we help to fund a UNICEF programme which supports the reintegration of victims of conflict-related sexual violence. ————————————————————- GENOCIDE IN SYRIA December 16th 2015 Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, both the noble Baroness, and the Statement, rightly referred to the terrible depredations occurring in Syria and the egregious violations of human rights. Earlier today, in a Written reply to me, the noble Baroness stated: “We are not submitting any evidence of possible genocide against Yezidis and Christians to international courts, nor have we been asked to”. Will the noble Baroness reflect on that reply and reconsider the Government’s position, and at least open discussions with the International Criminal Court? If the difference that marks us out from Daesh and those involved in these atrocities is that we believe in upholding the rule of law, is it not important to emphasise that a Nuremberg moment will come for those responsible for the mass graves—she may have seen them when she visited Sinjar recently—where Yazidi women who had been raped were then killed, and the other examples of beheadings, crucifixions and the many atrocities which were outlined in our recent debate in your Lordships’ House? One day, all that must have a day of reckoning. Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, first, I should make it clear that I was not close to Sinjar itself. I was in Erbil when the assault was launched. I would like to make that clear. With regard to genocide, as I have mentioned before, we condemn utterly those who carry out mass killings. There is no doubt about that. There is also the fact that it is for courts to determine whether that falls within the legal definition of genocide. We will continue to monitor exactly how the ICC is dealing with these cases, or not. I understand that, as the matter stands, Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor, has determined not to take these matters forward. However, I will check whether there has been any change to that position. I have made it clear in the work that I have done on preventing sexual violence in conflict that we must not tolerate impunity, and therefore, if the ICC is unable to act, I hope that we can work throughout the international community to find another way of providing justice to those who have suffered at the hands of Daesh—the Yazidis, the Syriacs and the other small communities forming the component parts across Iraq and Syria—because all of them deserve our respect and help. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 08 December 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Genocide HL4327 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 7 December (HL4065), whether they are in the process of submitting evidence of genocide against Yazidis and Assyrian Christians to international courts, and if so, which ones; when the international courts last declared a genocide to have taken place; and when the international courts last initiated a trial for genocide, and against whom. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 16 December 2015 We are not submitting any evidence of possible genocide against Yezidis and Christians to international courts, nor have we been asked to. The most recent occasion on which an international court found genocide to have occurred was on 10 June 2010, when the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted several of the accused in the Prosecutor v. Popović et al. case for either committing, conspiracy to commit, or aiding and abetting, genocide in and around Srebrenica and Žepa in 1995. These convictions were subsequently upheld by the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY on 30 January 2015. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) initiated a trial against Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, two former Khmer Republic senior officials, which remains ongoing, and includes charges of genocide against the Cham and Vietnamese people. Evidence relating to the genocide charges began being heard on 7 September 2015. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 17 December 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office HL4689 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 16 December (HL4327) that “we are not submitting any evidence of possible genocide against Yezidis and Christians to international courts, nor have we been asked to”, what assistance they are providing to the Assyrian Christians and Yezidis to make the case that genocide has been committed, and what resources they are providing for the collection of evidence. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Iraq: Genocide HL4065 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether the discovery of a booby-trapped mass grave in northern Iraq is evidence of genocide against minorities such as Yazidis and Assyrian Christians. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 07 December 2015 We are aware of reports that mass graves have been discovered in northern Iraq, at least one of which was allegedly booby trapped by Daesh. We condemn in the strongest terms the targeting and persecution of Yezidis, Christians and other communities by this brutal terrorist organisation. We continue to urge the Government of Iraq to do all it can to ensure the security and rights of all communities in Iraq. We are working in Iraq to build consensus around the importance of freedom of religion or belief; and supporting practical projects on community dialogue with civil society and faith groups. The British Government believes that recognition of genocides should be a matter for international courts. It should be a legal, rather than political determination, decided by international judges after consideration of all the evidence available in the context of a credible international judicial process. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 30 November 2015 Ministry of Defence Syria: Armed Conflict HL4066 To ask Her Majesty’s Government from which sources they derive their claim that there are 70,000 Syrian ground troops available to fight ISIL; what assessment they have made of whether that figure is correct; and what is their assessment of the statement by General Sir Richard Shirreff that that force would be incapable of liberating a city of 350,000, such as Raqqa. A Answered by: Earl Howe Answered on: 08 December 2015 I refer the noble Lord to the answer given by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 1 December 2015 to Question 17826 and have nothing further to add. ————————————————————- SAUDI ARABIA Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 30 November 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Saudi Arabia: Capital Punishment HL4062 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Saudi Arabia about those currently facing execution in Saudi Arabia. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 14 December 2015 The Government opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and in every country, including Saudi Arabia. The death penalty undermines human dignity and there is no evidence that it works as a deterrent. We continue to remind the Saudi authorities of our views on the death penalty at every suitable opportunity. We continue to strongly believe that we are most effective when we discuss human rights privately in some countries. This is the approach we are following in light of claims that Saudi Arabia intends to execute over 50 people convicted of terrorism offences, which the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), raised at a senior level on 4 December. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 30 November 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Saudi Arabia: Capital Punishment HL4067 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they intend to make to the government of Saudi Arabia about the sentencing of a Sri Lankan female domestic worker to death by stoning in that country. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 09 December 2015 We continue to be concerned by the case of Waleed abu Al-Khair and have raised it at a senior level with the Saudi authorities. We will continue to follow this and other cases closely. ————————————————————- YEMEN Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 07 December 2015 Department for International Development Yemen: Humanitarian Aid HL4264 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recent finding of the UNOCHA that more than 21.2 million people, including 9.9 million children, were in need of humanitarian aid in Yemen. A Answered by: Baroness Verma Answered on: 16 December 2015 The UK is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. According to UNOCHA, there are more people in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen than in any other country. However, because of the conflict, it has been difficult for the UN to access all parts of Yemen to carry out humanitarian assessments. The UN data on the overall number of people and children in need are therefore estimates and should be treated accordingly. Over the last year, the UK has doubled its humanitarian commitment to Yemen to £75 million in 2015/16. This is providing vital medical supplies, water, food, malnutrition and emergency shelter, including specifically to children through our programmes with UNICEF, Save the Children, and CARE. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 03 December 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Yemen: Armed Conflict HL4191 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by Save the Children Nowhere safe for Yemen’s children: The deadly impact of explosive weapons in Yemen. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 14 December 2015 We are very concerned by reports of any civilian casualties as a result of the ongoing fighting in Yemen. A political solution is the best way to bring long-term stability to Yemen and protect Yemen’s children, their families and communities. The UK is actively supporting the UN’s efforts to achieve a lasting ceasefire and a return to the political transition in Yemen. The UK is providing £75 million to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which includes funding to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, and the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) to provide specific support to children on protection, malnutrition, health, water and sanitation Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 03 December 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Yemen: Armed Conflict HL4192 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recommendations by Save the Children in its report Nowhere safe for Yemen’s children: The deadly impact of explosive weapons in Yemen, particularly regarding the enhanced protection of children, their families and communities, and the steps that should be taken by the UK to press all parties to the conflict to agree an immediate ceasefire and stop the use of explosive weapons. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 14 December 2015 We are very concerned by reports of any civilian casualties as a result of the ongoing fighting in Yemen. A political solution is the best way to bring long-term stability to Yemen and protect Yemen’s children, their families and communities. The UK is actively supporting the UN’s efforts to achieve a lasting ceasefire and a return to the political transition in Yemen. We have regularly raised our concerns with the Saudi Arabian authorities and received assurances that they are complying with International Humanitarian Law (IHL). We continue to engage with Saudi Arabia on those assurances and have offered advice and training to demonstrate best practice and to help ensure continued compliance with IHL. We are also concerned by reports of alleged IHL violations by Houthi-Saleh and pro-government forces, including attacks on civilians in Aden and Taiz; intimidation of UN ships attempting to dock at Aden; the use of schools and hospitals for military purposes; the use of child soldiers; and the targeting of aid workers and restrictions on humanitarian access. We have also raised our concerns with the Houthis on the importance of compliance with IHL and international human rights law. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 03 December 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Yemen: Arms Trade HL4193 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they are giving to the call by Save the Children for the UK to stop selling arms to any party involved in the conflict in Yemen while there is a risk that they might be used to violate international humanitarian or human rights law. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 14 December 2015 We are aware of reports of alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in Yemen by the Coalition, including alleged airstrikes resulting in civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure, and take these very seriously. We have regularly raised our concerns with the Saudi-Arabian authorities and received assurances that they are complying with IHL. We continue to engage with Saudi Arabia on those assurances and have offered advice and training to demonstrate best practice and to help ensure continued compliance with IHL. The UK operates one of the most rigorous and transparent export control regimes in the world. All exports of arms and controlled military goods are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing criteria, taking account of all relevant factors at the time of the application. Risks around human rights violations are a key part of our assessment against the Consolidated Criteria. A licence will not be issued, for any country, if to do so would be inconsistent with any provision of the UK Licensing Criteria, including where we assess there is a clear risk that it might be used in the commission of a serious violation of IHL. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 07 December 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Yemen: Armed Conflict HL4265 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the findings by Save the Children (1) that Yemen is the country (a) with the highest number of people in humanitarian need, and (b) with the highest number of casualties owing to explosive weapons; and (2) that at least three children are killed each day in Yemen. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 14 December 2015 The humanitarian situation in Yemen is now one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with more than 80 per cent of the population in need of humanitarian assistance. The UN declared Yemen a Level three crisis on 1 July, a category reserved for the most serious and complex crises (others are Syria, Iraq & South Sudan). Humanitarian needs remain significant across all sectors. According to the UN, 7.6 million are facing severe food shortages and 2.1 million people are malnourished, including 320,000 children who are severely malnourished. 2.3 million Yemenis are internally displaced. The UK is the 4th largest donor to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen (providing £75 million, including funding to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, and the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) to provide specific support to children on protection, malnutrition, health, water and sanitation). In compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL), no weapon should be used indiscriminately, disproportionately, or to deliberately target civilians and civilian objects. We therefore continue to urge all parties to the conflict to act in compliance with IHL and to conduct open and transparent investigations into all incidents where it is alleged that IHL has been breached. We remain extremely concerned by civilian casualties as a result of the conflict. A political solution is the best way to bring long-term stability to Yemen and we are supporting the UN’s efforts through diplomatic channels to achieve a ceasefire and return to an inclusive political process, including through the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), our ambassadors, and the UK Special Envoy to Yemen, my right hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Sir Alan Duncan). North Korea spent £500 million launching a missile while people go without food – and shoot to kill refugees at the River Tumen Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 17 November 2015 Home Office Asylum: North Korea HL3576 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 6 November (HL2882), whether they consider as South Korean citizens North Korean asylum seekers who do not express the intention to receive protection or citizenship from the Republic of Korea under the North Korean Refugees Protection and Settlement Support Act. A Answered by: Lord Bates Answered on: 25 November 2015 The Constitution of Republic of Korea (South Korea) stipulates that all North Koreans are citizens of the Republic of Korea. As citizens of South Korea, North Korean asylum seekers are able to seek the protection of the South Korean authorities. A person who simply expresses an unwillingness to avail themselves of such protection would not bring them within the scope of the UN Refugee Convention. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 17 November 2015 Home Office Asylum: North Korea HL3577 To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they consider North Korean citizens and refugees as South Korean citizens. A Answered by: Lord Bates Answered on: 25 November 2015 The Constitution of Republic of Korea (South Korea) stipulates that all North Koreans are citizens of the Republic of Korea. As citizens of South Korea, North Korean asylum seekers are able to seek the protection of the South Korean authorities. A person who simply expresses an unwillingness to avail themselves of such protection would not bring them within the scope of the UN Refugee Convention. Grouped Questions: HL3576 Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 02 November 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Migrant Workers HL3167 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of North Korea about the comments by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea that each year more than 50,000 NorthKoreans are sent abroad to work in conditions that amount to slavery. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 16 November 2015 We fully support the work of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). On 29 October, we delivered a statement in the UN which welcomed his efforts to improve the lives of ordinary North Koreans while also urging the DPRK authorities to grant him immediate and unhindered access to their country. We will continue to deliver these messages. The Special Rapporteur’s comments on forced labour are deeply concerning and, if accurate, appear to provide further evidence of the DPRK’s lack of respect for international norms. It is important that any country hosting North Korean workers respect their rights. We continue to press the DPRK to make tangible progress on improving its appalling human rights record, most recently in meetings in October between senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials and DPRK counterparts in London and Pyongyang. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 02 November 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: International Criminal Court HL3168 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the call by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea for the Kim regime in North Korea to be referred to the International Criminal Court, and whether they intend to discuss that recommendation with each of the other members of the UN Security Council. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 16 November 2015 We remain concerned by the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). We have recently worked with the EU and Japan to co-author a UN resolution on the human rights situation in the DPRK which calls for accountability. We are now working to achieve strong support for this resolution. We hold regular meetings with other UN Security Council member states to identify ways in which we can improve the DPRK’s human rights record. Our most recent meeting was at the UN in New York during October. We will continue to engage with key partners and allies to ensure the need for accountability remains at the heart of the international community’s work to improve the human rights situation in the DPRK. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 22 October 2015 Home Office Asylum: North Korea HL2882 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 8 June (HL179), whether they will continue to deport North Korean asylum seekers to South Korea, as detailed in the United Kingdom-South Korea Readmission Agreement; and whether North Korean asylum seekers can claim asylum in the United Kingdom if they co-operate with the South Korean Embassy in London to establish that they do not seek South Korean citizenship. A Answered by: Lord Bates Answered on: 06 November 2015 All asylum claims made by those from North Korea are carefully considered on their individual merits. A factor in that consideration will be whether the person is unable to exercise their right to South Korea citizenship and avail themselves of the protection of South Korea. Those found to be in need of international protection are provided with it. Those who have been found by the Home Office and the appeals process not to be in need of international protection and have no legal basis of stay in the UK are expected to leave. If they do not do so voluntarily they may have their removal enforced including where relevant under the terms of the United Kingdom-South Korea Readmission Agreement. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 26 October 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Terrorism HL2969 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 22 June (HL689) in determining that North Korea does not pose a terrorist threat, what assessment they made of any involvement by North Korea in assassinations, attempted kidnapping and offering support for the Tamil Tigers, Hezbollah and Hamas. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 05 November 2015 We are aware of media reports linking individuals alleged to be agents of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to assassination attempts against DPRK citizens who have resettled in the Republic of Korea (ROK). The reports also detail the actions taken by the ROK authorities in response to these incidents. There are also occasional unverified reports that North Korean agents have abducted refugees resident in other countries. While the DPRK has acknowledged its involvement in the historical abductions of Japanese citizens during the 1970s and 1980s, it has not admitted to participation in these more recent reported cases. We strongly support efforts to resolve enforced disappearances and spoke on this matter during a UN Human Rights Council panel discussion in September. We are also aware of media reports alleging cooperation between the DPRK and the Tamil Tigers, Hezbollah and Hamas. Despite these reports, recent public assessments indicate that the DPRK is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since 1987. However, the UK remains extremely concerned by the DPRK’s indiscriminate global proliferation of arms and related material, in violation of UN sanctions. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 22 October 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Capital Punishment HL2883 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to raise the case of any of the public executions in North Korea between 2010 and 2014 detailed in the latest report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in that country. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 04 November 2015 We remain strongly opposed to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances. The UK, working with the EU and Japan, has ensured that annual UN resolutions consistently call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to end its use of the death penalty. We also use our diplomatic relations to raise concerns directly withNorth Korean officials. British diplomats raised specific concerns with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pyongyang following the execution of Jang Song Thaek in December 2013. In October, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), met the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid, to discuss a coordinated approach to addressing human rights concerns across the globe, including the DPRK. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 22 October 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Human Rights HL2884 To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the United Kingdom Embassy in Pyongyang and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are utilising their resources to gather evidence that can be used in any possible future International Criminal Court trials of Kim Jong-un or other senior officials of North Korea; and, if so, how. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 04 November 2015 Our Embassy in Pyongyang produces diplomatic reporting and analysis to inform policy on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). This includes human rights. However, neither our Embassy nor the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are trained nor tasked to gather evidence. Information gathering on reported human rights violations within the DPRK is now being undertaken by the UN Human Rights Office in Seoul which opened in June. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 22 October 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Television Channels HL2885 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the publication of the latest report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea, what assessment they have made of how many television channels in North Korea may be accessed by the North Korean population. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 04 November 2015 We are aware of three television channels which operate within the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Korean Central Television (KCTV) which broadcasts news, sport, dramas and films; Mansudae which focuses on culture; and Ryongnamsan which covers education. KCTV broadcasts nationwide while Mansudae and Ryongnamsan broadcast in Pyongyang only. We also understand there are reports that some North Korean citizens, including those living in Pyongyang, are able to access foreign television services. However, we have been unable to verify if these reports are accurate. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 14 September 2015 Department for Culture, Media and Sport BBC World Service: North Korea HL2182 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the BBC’s decision to inaugurate broadcasts to the Korean peninsula. A Answered by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe Answered on: 21 September 2015 No such assessment has been made. The BBC’s proposals published in ‘British, Bold, Creative – The BBC’s programmes and services in the next Charter’, including its ideas for the future of the World Service, will be an important part of the Charter Review process the Government is running. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 20 July 2015 Department for International Development North Korea: Children HL1631 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the 2014 annual report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that the number of North Korean children being treated for severe acute malnutrition increased by 38 per cent in 2014; what assessment they have made of the reasons for this; what assessment they have made of the percentage of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s budget used for the health and wellbeing of children; and what information they have about how the government of NorthKorea is addressing the issue. A Answered by: Baroness Verma Answered on: 03 August 2015 The UN’s Needs and Priorities report for 2015 states that approximately 70 per cent of the DPRK population are food insecure and highly vulnerable to shortages in food production, which “is hampered by a lack of agricultural inputs, such as soybean seeds, fertilizer and plastic sheets”. It lists the chronic malnutrition (stunting) rate amongst children under-five as 27.9 per cent (about 540,000) and the acutely malnourished (wasting) rate as four per cent of children under-five (about 90,000). During the Third Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly held on 9 April 2015, the DPRK announced an overall increase in state budget of 5.5% (from 2014 figures), although no specific details regarding budget allocation were given. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has provided funding to sustain emergency aid operations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In 2014 CERF allocated US$ 6.5 million funding to the DPRK, of which the UK contributed 24%. This included support for nutrition and food security. DPR Korea 2015 Needs and Priorities (PDF Document, 2.32 MB) Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 16 July 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Biological Weapons HL1522 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by 38 North that North Korea has the capacity to make anthrax; and what assessment they have made of claims by Im Cheon-Yong that anthrax and other biological agents have been tested on North Korean citizens, including disabled people. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 29 July 2015 The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a State Party to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Under the Convention it is prohibited from developing, producing and stockpiling biological and toxin weapons, which include anthrax. As a confidence building measure, States should submit annual returns to report implementation of the Convention, but the DPRK has only ever submitted one such return (in 1990). This makes it extremely difficult for the international community to have confidence that they are meeting their obligations under the Convention. We are aware of claims by Im Cheon-Yong, a former DPRK Special Forces officer who defected in the mid-1990s. The UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations in the DPRK considered this issue in their 2014 report but received no first-hand accounts. The Commission concluded it was not in a position to confirm these allegations, but noted them as subjects for further investigation. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 22 June 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea HL689 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of any role played by the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in (1) sponsoring and aiding international terrorism; and (2) the abduction and attempted assassination of refugee North Korean activists; and what consideration they are giving to revising their travel advice for North Korea based upon these assessments. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 06 July 2015 The Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice for North Korea reflects our latest assessment of the threat from terrorism to British nationals in North Korea. We keep our travel advice under constant review. We do not consider that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) poses a terrorist threat, nor are we aware of any recent incidents of the DPRK abducting or physically harming North Korean refugees. It is unlikely the DPRK would issue visas to any North Korean refugees considering visiting the DPRK, but anyone who has previously held North Korean nationality should take into account that the DPRK may still regard them as North Korean nationals. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 23 June 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea HL729 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will take “merciless” steps against the planned opening of a United Nations office in Seoul to monitor human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 06 July 2015 The UK strongly welcomes the opening of the UN Human Rights Field Office in Seoul. As the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right Hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), has commented, this is an important step in improving monitoring of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea(DPRK). Our Embassy in Seoul attended the UN Office’s opening ceremony on 23 June and confirmed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights the UK’s readiness to support the work of the UN Office. The 29 May on-line statement by the DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland is clearly regrettable and misguided. Such statements will do nothing to convince the international community that the DPRK is serious about addressing its human rights failings. The international community has legitimate concerns over the human rights situation in the DPRK and it is right that the UN Office has been established so we can continue to document the scope and details of accusations; maintain a spotlight on the situation; and work together to identify how human rights can be improved in the DPRK. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 23 June 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea HL730 To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the British Ambassador to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is able to access the Kyo-hwa-so camps, the Kwan-li-so camps, the Ku-ryu-jang centres, the Jip-kyul-so prisons or the Ro-dong-dan-ryeondae centres; and how often the Embassy has requested access to those sites during the current Ambassador’s term. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 06 July 2015 The UK remains deeply concerned by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea(DPRK)’s use of political prison camps and by the severe and systematic violations of human rights within the DPRK penal system. During the last UN Universal Periodic Review of human rights in the DPRK the UK called for the closure of all prison camps. Together with other EU member states resident in Pyongyang, our Embassy has requested access to these camps on numerous occasions, and will continue to do so. However, the DPRK continues to refuse access by independent observers. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 23 June 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea HL731 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent meetings have taken place between officials of the British Embassy in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and that country’s government; and what were the outcomes of those meetings. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 06 July 2015 Our Embassy in Pyongyang has met with a broad range of representatives from the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) since DPRK-imposed quarantine restrictions on all persons entering the DPRK (as a result of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa) were lifted in March. Meetings have included: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of External Economic Relations; the Korean People’s Army; the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries; the Commission for Education; and the DPRK Broadcasting Commission. The meetings supported the UK’s policy of critical engagement with the DPRK, which is focussed on building relationships to enable us to deliver messages of concern regarding the DPRK’s weapons programme and appalling human rights record. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 23 June 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea HL732 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what outcomes they have measured following the implementation of United Kingdom-funded cultural engagement projects in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 06 July 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British Council projects in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) support the Government’s objectives with regard to the DPRK, including human rights, exposure to the outside world and support to vulnerable groups. As elsewhere in the world, it can be difficult to measure the immediate impact of cultural engagement, which is intended to encourage better understanding in order to support engagement on more sensitive issues. We believe that by exposing North Koreans to British culture and values, we can open up the debate within DPRK society about issues such as human rights and democratic development. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 19 June 2015 Department for International Development North Korea: Droughts HL665 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the drought inNorth Korea and its potential impact on food supplies in that country. A Answered by: Baroness Verma Answered on: 01 July 2015 According to UN reporting, a prolonged dry spell from mid-April to early June has led to soil moisture deficits, particularly in the central and southern provinces of North Korea, resulting in reductions of the 2015 staple rice crop and adversely affecting yield potential of early-planted crops, including maize and soybeans. A detailed assessment of the crop damage is not yet available, but early official estimates provided by the National Coordinating Committee (NCC), as of 8 June, indicate a severe contraction for rice plantings and large cultivated areas adversely affected by the current dry spell. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 22 June 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Overseas Aid HL690 To ask Her Majesty’s Government in which locations in North Korea the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea allows the United Kingdom to implement or fund projects. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 29 June 2015 There is no formal agreement between the UK and the Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea (DPRK) regarding project activity. The UK supports projects delivered by a range of international non-governmental organisations who work in co-ordination with the DPRK government. In recent years, UK funding has contributed to projects taking place in: Pyongyang; North Hwanghae Province; North Pyongyan Province; and Kangwon Province. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 22 June 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Diplomatic Relations HL691 To ask Her Majesty’s Government to what extent the British Ambassador to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is allowed to travel freely within that country. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 29 June 2015 The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) permits travel by diplomatic missions and international organisations, including our Embassy, to the following areas of the country: Pyongyang; Sinanju; Wonsan; Mount Kumgang; Sariwon; Songrim; Kwail County; and Haeju. Any diplomatic mission or international organisation wishing to undertake travel is required to notify the DPRK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs beforehand. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 01 June 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Nuclear Weapons HL128 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether the Six Party Talks on North Korea will resume, and of the likelihood of progress on the issue of nuclear weapons controls in the light of the five previous United Nations Security Council Resolutions and two Agreed Frameworks. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 10 June 2015 The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), discussed this with the Assistant Secretary in Washington on 2 June. An immediate resumption of Six Party Talks appears unlikely. While the US remain open to the prospect of resuming dialogue, they have also called for the Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea (DPRK) to demonstrate good faith before returning to talks. Thus far, the DPRK has rejected all proposals for talks on these terms. We remain extremely concerned by the DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and continue to urge the DPRK to: comply with its obligations under relevant UN Security Council Resolutions; refrain from any further provocations; abide by its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and permit full access by the International Atomic Energy Agency. We urge the rigorous implementation of sanctions by the international community to limit the DPRK’s ability to advance its programmes. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 02 June 2015 Home Office Refugees: North Korea HL179 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State for Immigration, James Brokenshire, on 26 March (HC228701), and in the light of the ongoing practice of the United Kingdom of deporting North Korean asylum seekers to South Korea, what assessment they have made of the statement by the government of South Korea in a letter to the Secretary of State in 2010, cited in the judgment of the Upper Tribunal in GP and others (South Korean Citizenship) NorthKorean CG  UKUT 391(IAC) that North Korean refugees must “desire to live in the Republic of Korea” before they can be considered South Korean nationals or be offered protection and settlement support. A Answered by: Lord Bates Answered on: 08 June 2015 The July 2010 letter written by the South Korean Embassy in London to the Home Office was fully considered by the Upper Tribunal in the case of GP and others. In paragraph 104 of its determination the Upper Tribunal noted firstly that the subsequent United Kingdom-South Korea Readmission Agreement entered into between the two countries on 10 December 2011 provides a mechanism for the issue of travel documents which is not dependent on the genuineness of the individual’s wish to live in South Korea; and secondly, the question of refugee status is an objective test which requires the person to demonstrate that they have cooperated by seeking to establish whether they can avail themselves of protection from another State of which they may be a citizen. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 27 May 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Human Rights HL48 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of recent reports of the execution of senior officials, and others, in North Korea; when they last raised human rights violations with the North Korean regime; what was discussed and what response was received. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 04 June 2015 We have seen recent media reporting speculating on the purge and execution of the Defence Minister of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), General Hyon Yong Chol, together with other officials. There has been no announcement from the DPRK on the fate of General Hyon and, due to the opaque nature of the DPRK system, it is difficult to verify the accuracy of such reports. We continue to be deeply concerned by the DPRK human rights situation and use our diplomatic relations to press these concerns wherever possible. In January, representatives of EU embassies in Pyongyang, including the UK, met the DPRK Foreign Minister to discuss a range of issues including human rights. In February, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials met with DPRK Embassy officials and discussed freedom of expression, the March UN Human Rights Council session and EU plans for a resolution on human rights in the DPRK. More recently, at a meeting in March with the DPRK Ambassador to the UK, we underlined the strength of British Government and public interest in this issue. We used these meetings to raise our concerns and to encourage concrete change in the DPRK and positive interaction with the international community. The DPRK expressed disappointment over the UK and EU’s work to raise our concerns in international fora and challenged international assessments of its domestic human rights situation. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 01 June 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office United Nations: South Korea HL126 To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the proposed United Nations field office in South Korea will monitor human rights violations in North Korea; and what is their assessment of the state of progress in establishing that office. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 04 June 2015 The UN Human Rights Council mandated the UN field office in Seoul to monitor and document the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea(DPRK) in resolution A/HRC/RES/25/25. This resolution also mandates the field office to enhance the engagement and capacity-building of various stakeholders and to maintain the visibility of the human rights situation in the DPRK. The UK supported this resolution and looks forward to the opening of the field office. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva have advised us that the field office should become operational this month. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 01 June 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Food Supply HL127 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the United Nations World Food Programme’s estimate that $69 million is required to ensure food security in North Korea, in the light of the level of spending by the government ofNorth Korea on defence and luxury facilities; and what discussions they have had with the government of North Korea about their spending priorities and their requests for international aid. A Answered by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns Answered on: 04 June 2015 The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not made an independent assessment on the food security situation within the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). We remain concerned about the DPRK government’s continued prioritization of military spending over spending to feed its people. The UK does not have a bilateral aid programme in the DPRK nor have we held recent discussions with the DPRK government regarding spending priorities or requests for international aid. Outstanding Questions awaiting answer… Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Refugees HL3790 To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the government of China about not returning to North Korea nine refugees transferred to China from Vietnam; what assessment they have made of conclusions by Human Rights Watch that, should those refugees be repatriated, they will be at grave risk; and what assessment the British Ambassador in Pyongyang has made of the fate of other refugees returned to North Korea. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 17 November 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Broadcasting HL3578 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 4 November (HL2885), what assessment they have made, if any, of the reach and impact of radio and television in North Korea. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 17 November 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Human Rights HL3579 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with EU member states and other European countries about the implementation of targeted human rights sanctions against named North Korean officials who are suspected of committing crimes against humanity. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 17 November 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office North Korea: Human Rights HL3580 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the North Korean population of implementing targeted human rights sanctions against named North Korean politicians and officials. ————————————————————- September 2015: David Alton is co-chairman of the parliamentary All Party Group on North Korea. He says that the United Nations Commission into Human Rights Violations in North Korea, chaired by Mr.Justice Michael Kirby, was right to raise concerns about North Korean escapees being returned to North Korea and says that: * DPRK citizens who cross the border into China do so owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted; that * Those forcibly repatriated are subjected to torture and arbitrary detention and in some instances rape, enforced disappearances, summary execution and other gross human rights violations; that * There are reasonable ground for believing that DPRK agents operate on Chinese territory and even abduct DPRK citizens and at least one Republic of Korea (ROK) national; that * Many North Korean women are being trafficked into forced marriages and in some instances commercial sexual exploitation; that *estimates of “stateless” children in China (children of Chinese fathers and North Korean mothers) ranges from 10,000 to 25,000; that. *North Korea has forcibly aborted woman who have become pregnant after intercourse with Chinese men and have done so because they claim that such babies would dilute North Korea’s blood line – deeply insulting to China and the practice of racial eugenics; and that * countries like Thailand should not arrest escaping North Koreans but assist them with safe passages to the Republic of Korea. Lord Alton says that “it is vitally important for us all to keep the serial violation of the human rights of North Koreans in the public eye.” ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————– Chilling testimony of the evils of North Korea’s regime: December 10th 2014 : New report launched at Westminster on the lack of religious freedom in North Korea: Read the full report and executive summary at: https://freedomdeclared.org/news/appgs-report-persecution-north-korea-published/ On 10 December – international human rights day – the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (APPG) published the findings of its Parliamentary Inquiry into persecution in North Korea. The report, Religion and Belief in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, includes witness accounts of the horrific human rights abuses suffered by religious and belief minorities in the country, which often go unheard because of the secrecy of the regime. It concludes: “The DPRK systematically oppresses freedom of religion or belief, and Christians in particular are targeted by the regime and subjected to chronic human rights abuses, amounting to crimes against humanity.” The report makes a number of recommendations to the British Government, including that it continue pursuing the referral of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea to the International Criminal Court to account for its treatment of its citizens. It also recommends that the UK invest in long-term strategic engagement with North Korea. Some of the practical suggestions include: educational exchanges, investing in the 30,000 North Korean people who have managed to escape, breaking the information blockade, critical engagement on human rights and the re-instigation of the ‘Six Party Talks’. Further, it urges the BBC World Service to establish a radio broadcast to the Korean Peninsula, in both English and Korean languages, giving citizens a window out of their closed world. The report was launched at a meeting chaired by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Vice Chair of the APPG on North Korea. Those present heard of routine, horrific suffering at the hands of the DPRK state, with the Rev. Stuart Windsor, of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, sharing that “Between 1997 and 2007 an estimated one million North Koreans died or were killed in prison while the West has been silent”. The meeting also heard of the ingrained suspicion of religion from Kim, Joo-il, who told how “In North Korea, anti-religious education starts at six-seven years – people are taught to antagonise religion”. While Zoe Smith, of Open Doors UK & Ireland, highlighted a strong message of the APPG’s report, that the current situation in the DPRK “needs the ‘world citizen’ to step up to the table and say ‘enough’s enough’. Change is needed.” Baroness Berridge, chairman of the APPG, commented: “For the past sixty-plus years, the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea has committed egregious human rights violations – the details of which would turn the stomach of even the most hardened person. This includes banishing those who follow a religion to remote places, incarcerating them, subjecting them to torture in labour camps, and murdering Christians for merely possessing a Bible…For many years North Korea has been viewed as an impossible case, but now the international community is finally beginning to afford the country the attention its people so desperately need.” Lord Alton, chairman of the APPG on North Korea and Vice-chair of the APPG on International Freedom of Religion or Belief, highlighted that “Christmas spent in a North Korean gulag will be just another day of grotesque suffering”, concluding that “We who enjoy political and religious freedom; free to practice our faith; free to celebrate Christmas with our loved ones, must speak out and take practical actions to help bring the long winter of oppression to an end. This Report should be essential Christmas reading for Governments, MPs, and policy makers”. Executive Summary To the Report Introduction In February 2014, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) into Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) released a 400 page report documenting chronic, wide‐spread human rights abuses in the DPRK. The COI concludes that: “there is no effective freedom of religious belief in the DPRK. Such belief is treated as basically incompatible with, and hostile to, the state‐sponsored personality cult surrounding Kim Il‐sung and his descendants. Countless numbers of persons in the DPRK who attempt to practise their religious beliefs have been severely punished, even unto death.”1] Therefore, the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom concluded that it was necessary to write a report devoted to this particular aspect of the human rights abuses in the DPRK. The All Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief was established in June 2012 and published its first report in May 2013. It is supported by groups from across the religion and belief spectrum, as well as interested individuals, and groups campaigning for human rights. The All Party Parliamentary Group aims to champion the right of all people across the world to enjoy the freedom bestowed by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It was founded on the principle that it would direct its attention where the need is greatest and the possibility for change is highest. This Report seeks to provide an overview of the situation facing religion in the DPRK, including the history of faith on the peninsula, the chronic abuse of followers of religion in the DPRK where Kim Ilsung is reported to have said that “religious people should die to cure their habit”,2 possible signs of hope and suggestions of ways forward for the international community to address the seemingly implacable situation. The DPRK is one of the most closed states in the world. Therefore, it presents an almost unique challenge in obtaining up‐to‐date and verifiable statistics and witness statements. Nevertheless, the inquiry was able to hear testimonies from DPRK refugees, NGOs, experts and academics, and believes that the evidence it received is credible. For security purposes, a number of these witnesses’ identities have been withheld. Furthermore, the majority of the evidence concerning religion in the DPRK details the situation of Christians in that country. This is partially because many of those who attempt to engage with the DPRK are Christians, but also because, as the COI reported, “the spread of Christianity is considered by the DPRK a particularly serious threat”3 and therefore Christians are subjected to especially harsh treatment and warrant the particular interest of human rights groups. This is evident throughout the Report but, nonetheless, this Report aims to address the overall treatment of religions in the DPRK. 1 Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, 2014 http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/CoIDPRK/Pages/CommissionInquiryonHRinDPRK.aspx para, 258 [accessed 23.11.14] 2 Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, 2014, para, 253 3 Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, 2014, para, 264, Executive Summary Korea has a rich religious heritage. Buddhism, Confucianism and Shamanism have been practiced on the Korean peninsula for centuries with other religions, such as Christianity and Tonghak arriving much later – Christianity first in the 1600s and Tonghak in the 1800s. Such was the widespread adherence to Christianity in North Korea that, by the twentieth century, Pyongyang was known as “the Jerusalem of the East.” Pope John Paul II said that the Korean church was “unique in the story of the Church” Since the division of the Korean peninsula in 1945 religion has been restricted and then systematically suppressed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Before the Korean War of 1950‐1953, Kim Il‐sung’s policies squeezed religious organisations, annexing their sources of finance and restricting their ability to meet. Increasingly, those who refused to collaborate with the regime were banished to remote, hostile parts of the country, imprisoned in labour or prison camps, or killed. Those who could fled South to the Republic of Korea (ROK). Atrocities were committed against religious groups during the Korean War, particularly against Christians, such as massacres, torture and forced death marches. Bishops, ministers, priests, nuns and lay people were routinely murdered. Atrocities were also reported by self‐styled Christian groups, and the predominant religion of the ROK’s Western allies completed the creation of religious and political associations during the war. After 1953 the DPRK retreated into isolationism and Kim Il‐sung focussed on consolidating his rule by wiping out opposition, including religious groups. From 1953 to the early 1970s it appeared as if religion had been completely wiped from the DPRK. “(We) cannot carry such religiously active people along our march toward a communist society. Therefore, we have tried and executed all religious leaders higher than a deacon in the Protestant and Catholic churches. Among other religiously active people, those deemed malignant were all put to trial. Among ordinary religious believers, those who recanted were given jobs while those who did not were held in prison camps.” – Kim Il‐sung, 1962. During this time, the songbun system was introduced to the DPRK. This categorised citizens into three groups, with an additional 51 sub‐groups. These groups were ‘core class, wavering class and hostile class’. Followers of religion were assigned to the lower rungs of the ‘hostile class’ and banished to remote areas, labour or prison camps. Religion was forced underground with followers meeting secretly and at great risk. One refugee described how he and his wife hid under a blanket to sing hymns, whereas another reported how their friend was taken to one of the most notorious prison camps in the DPRK after being seen saying grace over dinner. Furthermore, a system of three‐generational guilt was introduced, meaning that if one person were found to be religious, three generations of their family would suffer as a result. As in the cases of Ms Seo Keum Ok and Ms Ryi Hyuk Ok. Ms Seo Keum Ok was arrested in 2009 for distributing Bibles and suffered ‘indescribable torture’. Her husband was also imprisoned and her children went missing. Also in 2009, Ms Ryi Hyuk Ok was executed for distributing Bibles. Her husband, children and parents were sent to a political prison camp. When in a camp, religious followers and particularly Christians are subject to especially harsh treatment. One woman, arrested for her faith, was “assigned to pull the cart used to remove excrement from the prison latrines. Several times the guards made her lick off excrement that had spilled over in order to humiliate and discipline her.” Persecution of religious groups is well‐known. Of all the refugees interviewed by the Database Centre for North Korean Human Rights, 99.7% said that there is no religious freedom in North Korea. The interviewees’ testimonies showed that victims of religious persecution were 45.5% Protestant, 0.2% Catholic, 1.3% Buddhist, 1.7% no religion, 1.1% ‘others’ and 50.3% unknown. Many religious people are discovered when forcibly repatriated to the DPRK after trying to flee. More often than not, they are repatriated from China, in violation of the international principle of non‐refoulement. The DPRK has instituted its own national ideology, Juche, which merged with what is known as ‘Kimilsungism’ in the 1970s to create a quasi‐religious ideology. All DPRK citizens are demanded to adhere to Juche, which has no tolerance of separate belief systems, thereby providing further fodder for religious persecution. With the introduction of The Ten Principles in 1974, DPRK citizens were commanded to “Accept the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il‐sung’s revolutionary thought as your belief and take the Great Leader’s instructions as your creed.” Despite this bleak outlook, there have been some visible displays of religion in the DPRK. In the early 1970s various national religious institutions appeared. Furthermore, from the late 1980s, statesponsored churches were erected in Pyongyang and Buddhist temples were permitted to hold national celebrations. The language of the Constitution and also the dictionary definitions around religion have also changed, dropping many of the negative connotations therein. The implication of these developments is hotly debated. Many argue that they are no more than Potemkin‐style attempts to convince the international community that there is religious freedom in the DPRK in order to encourage investment and to appease international criticism. Indeed, there are reports of church congregations being bussed in for services or Buddhist guides hurriedly donning a tonsure when seeing a tourist group. However, others suggest that these changes may point to a very slight opening for at least those historic religious followers in the DPRK and that it points to a comprehension of the importance of the right to freedom of religion or belief to the international community. Nonetheless, any understanding that this implies is directly at odds with the continued systemic oppression of religious groups within the DPRK. The inquiry concluded that there is systemic oppression of religious freedom within the DPRK and that Christians in particular are targeted by the regime and subjected to crimes against humanity. Furthermore, the visible changes in policy in the 1970s‐1990s, which could be developed, did not point to an overall relaxation of pressure on religious groups in the DPRK. Therefore, there is need for accountability and referral to the International Criminal Court. However, the inquiry unanimously agreed that accountability in itself was not enough. Therefore, the push for an ICC referral must also be coupled with long‐term, strategic engagement with the DPRK – ranging from informal tribunals to fact‐finding missions, educational and cultural exchanges, breaking of the information blockade, persistent critical engagement on human rights, the re‐instigation of The Six Party Talks, and the development of “off the tracks” approaches, especially be investing in the diaspora of around 30,000 North Korean escapees now living outside the DPRK. Foremost, it is vital that we maintain momentum and public pressure on the DPRK so that it can no longer perpetrate such abuses with impunity. Conclusion and Recommendations The inquiry concluded that the DPRK systemically oppresses freedom of religion or belief and that Christians in particular are targeted by the regime and subjected to chronic human rights abuses, amounting to crimes against humanity. Although there were some visible changes in policy in the 1970s‐1990s, which could be further developed, this did not point to an overall relaxation of pressure on religious groups in the DPRK. Therefore, there is need for accountability. However, the inquiry unanimously agreed that accountability in itself was not enough, as any chosen route of accountability must also be coupled with long‐term, strategic engagement with the DPRK. Only then will there be transition of the society away from one in which systemic abuses of human rights take place as a matter of course and to one where human rights, including the fundamental right to freedom of religion or belief, are protected and upheld. The inquiry recommends that the UK: ‐ Pursue the UN Commission of Inquiry’s recommendation of referral to the International Criminal Court; ‐ Pursue all other recommendations made by the UN Commission of Inquiry; ‐ The UK Government re‐assesses its own “soft power” approach in North Korea and places more emphasis on developing and supporting the diaspora of escapees, developing and forming tomorrow’s new leaders. ‐ Thoroughly consider and instigate appropriate alternative justice mechanisms to compliment the International Criminal Court process; ‐ Proactively support the re‐instigation of the Six Party Talks and all other engagement with the ROK; ‐ Ensure that all discussions on the DPRK at the UN and the EU include human rights and especially the “orphaned right” of freedom of religion and belief: Article 18. ‐ Continue to critically engage with the DPRK bilaterally on human rights with the UK’s Ambassador in Pyongyang elevating religious freedom to a high priority; ‐ Financially and administratively invest in the study of students from the DPRK in the UK, including providing solutions to insurmountable visa requirements; ‐ Invest in cultural exchanges with the DPRK and in the DPRK diaspora, especially those living in the UK, to equip them to be agents for change in their country; ‐ Urge the BBC World Service to establish a radio broadcast to the Korean Peninsula, in both Korean and English languages; ‐ Pursue creative ways of breaking the information blockade, for example through the use of DVDs, mobile phones and USBs; ‐ Fund or otherwise facilitate further research into the human rights situation in the DPRK, especially on the possibility that genocide has been perpetrated against Christians; ‐ Increase dialogue with China, encouraging them to end their policies of forcible repatriation and to abide by the principle of non‐refoulement; ‐ Provide humanitarian assistance to the people of the DPRK, while insisting on satisfactory levels of independent monitoring. A New Day Will Dawn Lee Hee‐ho, a Methodist, who would become the first lady of the Republic of Korea, described how her Catholic husband, Kim Dae Jung, endured years of imprionment, torture, assasination attempts and persecution, culminating in the overthrow of brutal military dictarorship and his election as President as: “truly an Orwellian world of illegal brutality – acting as if they would never have to answer to history of God for their barbarity.” She described the role of the churches in bringing about change and how supporters of democracy were “Deprived of any clothing they were mercilessly pummelled with wooden bats, deprived of sleep, and had water poured into their nostrils while hanging upside down like so much beef hanging from hooks in the slaughter house. Listening to these stories of horror, my body shuddered with indescribable indignation and sorrow.” Kim Dae Jung said “The intention was to make me go insane. I could hear someone moaning in a room next to me. I was stripped naked and forced to wear wornout military fatigues. I was threatened with torture.” In considering the testimonies given to our Inquiry we were struck that Christians and others in the DPRK are today enduring what Christians and others once experienced in the South – but that through their suffering, a new day has dawned. ———————————————————————————————————————————————————– December 11th – Evidence Given at Westminster on the Plight of Disabled People in north Korea: Testimony of a Disabled North Korean Escapee http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/11288881/British-Government-duped-into-funding-North-Korean-athletes-at-London-2012-Paralympics.html http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/11286517/North-Korea-leaves-disabled-to-die.html http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/north-korea-castrates-dwarfs-makes-4790278 Also visit the web site of the All Party Parliamentary group on North Korea: http://appgnk.org/ ————————————————————- Immigration Bill Second Reading Debate December 22nd 2015. – 1.14 pm Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, I should like to contrast this Immigration Bill with the Bill which the Home Office laid before us last year on human trafficking and modern-day slavery. That was a well-crafted piece of legislation, which enjoyed bipartisan support and was significantly improved as it made its way through both of our Houses of Parliament. Ministers were warmly congratulated on the way in which they engaged with complex issues and the organisations working in the field. I wish that I could say the same for this Bill. As the Minister knows, last week I chaired a briefing organised by the Refugee Children’s Consortium, which comprises some 40 agencies. No one could have left that meeting believing that organisations ranging from Barnardo’s and the Children’s Society to the Refugee Council, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association were anything other than deeply concerned by the impact which the Bill will have on some already incredibly vulnerable people. I would draw a further link with the showcase legislation on human trafficking and modern-day slavery. There is a widely held view, which I share, that the enforced destitution, which has been referred to in this debate and which this legislation sets out to achieve as a misguided way of disincentivising immigrants, will push desperate people into the clutches of traffickers and leave them open to the very exploitation which the 2014 Act set out to deter. It is sometimes said that when you legislate in haste, you repent at leisure. I feel very uneasy about a Bill which has all the characteristics of hasty legislation: proposals not fully thought through or developed; inadequate evaluation; and drafting that has been struggling to keep up with the progress of the Bill. Another tell-tale sign of unseemly haste is the way in which extensions to Scotland, Northern Ireland and, in some cases, Wales are deferred to regulations—a point which the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, alluded to. How can this possibly be a good way of making law? Nor have we properly evaluated the impact and effect of the Immigration Act 2014 before legislating further. I refer to issues such as the removal of rights of appeal, the creation of civil penalty schemes for landlords and the dispensing with time-honoured remedies and rights of redress. So, when we get to Committee and Report, I hope that we will carefully scrutinise in particular Clauses 37 and 38, which are concerned with the destitution of refused asylum seekers. In a speech which I made in October in support of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, when she sought to annul Asylum Support Regulations, I quoted Asylum Link Merseyside, of which I am a patron and which is based in the heart of the inner-city areas that I represented for 25 years as a city councillor or as a Member of the House of Commons. As I said then, ALM contends that: “This government policy of making asylum seekers destitute works on the assumption that by forcing people into extreme poverty they will choose to return to countries from which they have fled in fear of their lives”. Its experience has been that 98% of failed asylum seekers choose to stay, surviving on handouts, sleeping on floors or sleeping rough. Over the past three years, it has come into contact, in its words, “with over 400 destitute asylum seekers out of which only 8 have chosen to return home voluntarily”.—[Official Report, 27/10/15; col. 1145.] The Cardinal Hume Centre, a stone’s throw away from where we are gathered today, is one of the very few organisations that still provides free immigration advice from application right up to judicial review. The centre currently has a caseload of more than 300 open cases. From the centre’s front-line experience, it warns that using destitution simply does not work. Instead, it leaves people only more reliant on charities and more susceptible to abuse and exploitation. Paradoxically, the Bill is likely to undermine immigration controls as refused asylum seekers will have little incentive to remain in contact with the authorities once support has been withdrawn. Statistics released by the Home Office last month revealed that a third of appeals are in fact accepted, so under Part 5 of the Bill there will be individuals and families with children who will eventually be granted asylum, but who by that point will have been starved and abandoned by the British state. How will that help with their integration into society? The current demonising and scapegoating of migrants should make us think about the society we want to be: do we value these people as sources of economic potential or as human beings? My late mother came to this country as an immigrant from the west of Ireland. Her first language was Irish, not English, and she and her siblings fled harrowing poverty after the deaths of both their parents. She met my demobbed father, who was a Desert Rat, and married. She was always grateful for the opportunity to earn a living, make a home and bring up her children. In my years as a teenage student in Liverpool, there were still advertisements for accommodation that bore the words, “Blacks and Irish need not apply”. I also saw how easily people and communities could be stigmatised and discriminated against. All this makes me especially wary of laws which indefinitely detain immigrants and seem to discriminate against them. I hope that, in Committee, we will correct this injustice, and I entirely agree with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, about indefinite detention. We should also enable people to have the right to work, perhaps modelled on the American green card system. How many of us could survive in accommodation, given on a no-choice basis, with just £5.28 each day to cover food, clothing, toiletries, travel, communications and all other necessities? This year, the British Red Cross says that it has supported more than 10,000 asylum seekers and their dependents in that kind of situation. This is not Syria; it is the UK in 2015, where 10,000 people were in receipt of aid from the Red Cross. That is not the hallmark of a compassionate or civilised society. The Bill also affects family unity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights insists: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State”. The situation of families in Calais was referred to earlier. There are currently an estimated 6,000 people living in the “jungle” refugee camp in Calais, and the majority of residents are refugees from countries and regions facing the kind of dangers of which we are all too sadly aware. Caritas Social Action Network recently visited the camp and spoke to young people fleeing terror groups. One young man, just 18, was left with little choice but to leave Iraq after his village was taken under Daesh control. Had he stayed, he would have faced two options: join or be put to death. His brother had already claimed asylum in the UK, and was now living safely in Liverpool, yet the restrictive family reunification rules mean he cannot join him here. Having experienced such atrocities and loss, is it fair that he would not be able to be reunited with his family in England? I have recently referred to the camp in Calais on a number of occasions during exchanges in your Lordships’ House. Rob Lawrie, a former soldier, tried to rescue a four year-old girl from the camp because he could not bear to see her remain in the horrific conditions—he now faces five years in prison for doing so. He concedes that what he did was wrong, but it is hard not to think of the Kindertransport or Sir Nicholas Winton and the rescue of countless children caught up in the horrors of the Third Reich, which bears easy comparison with the depredations of ISIS. Save the Children say that 10,000 minors and unaccompanied children fled to Europe last year, but 4,000 have disappeared. Into what? The Minister has undertaken to meet Save the Children and I hope he will give us a detailed response on the position of unaccompanied minors and children and what priority they will be given, how local authorities will be co-ordinated to deal with them, what safeguarding will be put in place, and how the amazing generosity and goodness of countless British people will be tapped through nationally organised fostering arrangements. Finally, as currently drafted, the Bill fails to address the abuse and exploitation that migrant domestic workers face as a consequence of the tied visa system, an issue which I spoke on at each stage of the Modern Slavery Bill, and on which my noble friend Lord Hylton and I divided your Lordships’ house. I echo his remarks from earlier. In response to our debates, the Government asked the barrister James Ewins to carry out a review of the overseas domestic worker visa. Published last week, it covered the right to change employer, extension to two and a half years for such workers, information interviews and refusal of settlement. Mr Ewins says: “On the balance of the evidence currently available, this review finds that the existence of a tie to a specific employer and the absence of a universal right to change employer and apply for extensions of the visa are incompatible with the reasonable protection of overseas domestic workers while in the UK”. The tied visa system has increased the exploitation and abuse of domestic workers. Reform to the rules is desperately needed and it is vital that we do not miss this opportunity, once again, to rectify this injustice. The report quotes the noble lord, the Minister, as saying: “Abuse of domestic workers, whether UK or EEA nationals, those on an [overseas domestic workers] or other visa, or those who have entered the UK illegally, is an abhorrent crime and will not be tolerated here in Britain”. Now is our chance to give legislative protection to this group of workers and I look forward to hearing from the Minister what the Government propose to do. 1.25 pm ————————————————————- Questions awaiting answer…. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 21 December 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office India: Dalits HL4737 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the decision by the state government of Andhra Pradesh to enable the enforcement of the Andhra Pradesh Devadasis (Prohibition of Dedication) Act 1988 through the Andhra Pradesh Devadasis Prohibition of Dedication Rules 2015, and of the impact of that decision on Dalit women and girls in that state. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 21 December 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office India: Dalits HL4738 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they plan to make to the state government of Telangana about following the example of the state government of Andhra Pradesh in introducing rules to prevent the sexual exploitation of Dalit women and girls through the Devadasi and Jogini systems of ritualised prostitution. Q Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool Asked on: 17 December 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Genocide HL4689 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 16 December (HL4327) that “we are not submitting any evidence of possible genocide against Yezidis and Christians to international courts, nor have we been asked to”, what assistance they are providing to the Assyrian Christians and Yezidis to make the case that genocide has been committed, and what resources they are providing for the collection of evidence.
Chilling testimony of the evils of North Korea’s regime
Also visit the web site of the All Party Parliamentary group on North Korea: http://appgnk.org/
The unprecedented publication of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) report calling for the prosecution of North Korea’s leaders for crimes against humanity. 400,000 are estimated to have died in North Korea’s camps over the past 30 years.
A United Nations Commission of Inquiry has called for the leaders of North Korea to be
prosecuted at The Hague for crimes against humanity. Lord Alton of Liverpool has
chaired a parliamentary committee on North Korea for 10 years. The COI report
underlines and corroborates the witness statements about unspeakable cruelty that Lord
Alton’s committee has heard. This report may be the catalyst for global action to force
change in North Korea.His reaction follows details of two forthcoming meetings at Westminster, where you can learn more:
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