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North Korea still violating human rights: UN envoy

[JURIST] North Korea [JURIST news archive] has shown no improvement in its human rights record and still systematically tortures its citizens, a UN special rapporteur said Friday. Vitit Muntarbhorn [UN press release] and a special UN envoy visited Japan [press release] this week to assess the impact of the North Korean rights situation on that country. In remarks concluding his visit, Muntarbhorn condemned North Korea's practice of public executions, inhumane prison conditions, and oppression of dissidents. Muntarbhorn will speak with North Korean refugees living in South Korea on Saturday.

Muntarbhorn's comments follow a report in November by the South Korean aid agency Good Friends [advocacy website, in Korean] that the North Korean government has increased the use of public executions [JURIST report]. The government of North Korea has long been accused of using the death penalty against its political enemies, among other human rights violations. In September 2007, the US State Department designated North Korea as a "country of particular concern" for its systematic repression of religious freedom in its annual Report on International Religious Freedom [text; JURIST report]. North Korea has also been accused of human trafficking, press repression, and "actively committing crimes against humanity" [JURIST reports]. Reuters has more.

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