UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea Marzuki Darusman [official profile] expressed deep concerns [press conference] Wednesday regarding human rights violations in the country. His investigation revealed that workers from North Korea are being systematically deployed outside of the country in what amounted to forced labor conditions. Darusman’s report [text, PDF], which he presented Wednesday to the UN General Assembly, claims that approximately 50,000 workers are currently deployed abroad, primarily in Russia, China and some middle eastern nations. These workers are reportedly forced to work up to 20 hours a day, with only two days a month of rest. According to the report, employers pay these workers USD $120 to $150 a month while depositing significantly higher amounts with North Korea government-owned companies. Darusman found that the primary reason for such deployments is to circumvent UN sanctions imposed on the country concerning foreign currency earnings.
Concerns about human rights violations in North Korea have persisted for years. In April North Korean leader Kim Jong-un [BBC profile] reportedly ordered the execution [JURIST report] of 15 state officials. In November Darusman said that there is enough evidence to hold North Kim responsible for “massive” human rights atrocities [JURIST report] committed in the country. In response to these concerns, the UN in June opened a new office [JURIST report] in Seoul to specifically monitor human rights in North Korea.