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North Korea holding 200,000 political prisoners: report

[JURIST] The North Korean government is holding approximately 200,000 dissidents [press release, in Korean] in six prison camps spread throughout the country, according to a report released Wednesday by the South Korean government's National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) [official website, in Korean]. According to the report, punishments for dissidents have increased significantly [VOA report] for common offenses such as attempting to escape. The report also said that five of these six prisons are death camps and that prisoners sent to them are never [Chosun llbo report] released. This is the first time a state agency has conducted a review of human rights in North Korea.

In October, UN Special Rapporteur for North Korea Vitit Muntarbhorn criticized [JURIST report] North Korea for human rights violations. Muntarbhorn said North Korea was responsible for a broad range of egregious human rights violations [UN press release] including torture, public executions, and widespread hunger. North Korea's deputy UN ambassador Pak Tok-Hun has condemned [NYT report] the report and defended [JURIST report] the country's rights record before the council.

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