Democratic People's Republic of Korea
1. The Committee considered the second
periodic report of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (CCPR/C/PRK/2000/2)
at its 1944th to 1946th meetings, held on 19 and 20 July 2001, and adopted
the following concluding observations at its 1953rd meeting, held on 26
2. The Committee welcomes the submission
of the second periodic report, which contains detailed information on domestic
legislation in the area of civil and political rights, and the opportunity
to resume the dialogue with the State party after an interval of more than
17 years. The Committee welcomes the State party's decision to send a strong
delegation from its capital, composed of representatives of various government
authorities, for the examination of the second periodic report, and the
readiness expressed by the delegation to continue the dialogue with the
Committee after the examination of the report. The Committee is also pleased
to note that the delegation of the State party recognized the importance
of the Committee's task and intimated that the Committee could expect more
prompt reporting in the future. The Committee regrets, however, the considerable
delay in the submission of the report, which was due in 1987. It regrets
the lack of information on the human rights situation in practice, as well
as the absence of facts and data on the implementation of the Covenant.
As a result, a number of credible and substantiated allegations of violations
of Covenant provisions which have been brought to the attention of the Committee
could not be addressed effectively and the Committee found it difficult
to determine whether individuals in the State party's territory and subject
to its jurisdiction fully and effectively enjoy their fundamental rights
under the Covenant.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee appreciates the efforts
undertaken by the State party to translate and make available
texts of domestic legislation relevant to
the examination of the second periodic report, which greatly facilitated
the Committee's work.
4. The Committee welcomes the reduction
of the number of criminal offences carrying the death penalty from 33 to
5, as well as the readiness, mentioned in the report and confirmed by the
delegation, further to review the issue of capital punishment with a view
to its abolition.
5. The Committee appreciates that the
delegation acknowledged the need to improve the condition of human rights
in several areas covered by the Covenant, notably the situation of women
in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; in that context, the Committee
welcomes the ratification by the State party, in February 2001, of the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination against Women.
6. The Committee welcomes as a positive
sign the fact that exchange visits between families from the State party
and the Republic of Korea, however limited, have taken place on three occasions
since the Pyongyang Declaration of 15 June 2000.
7. The Committee also appreciates the
discontinuation of administrative internment in the State party.
C. Subjects of concern and recommendations
8. The Committee remains concerned
about constitutional and legislative provisions that seriously endanger
the impartiality and independence of the judiciary, notably that the Central
Court is accountable to the Supreme People's Assembly under article 162
of the Constitution. Furthermore, article 154 of the Constitution limits
the tenure of judges to five years and article 129 of the Criminal Code
subjects judges to criminal liability for handing down "unjust judgements".
Given the roles assigned to the judiciary under articles 2 and 14, paragraph
1, of the Covenant, these legal provisions have an adverse impact on the
protection of human rights guaranteed under the Covenant and endanger the
independence of the judiciary required by article 14.1 of the Covenant.
The State party should take appropriate
measures to ensure and protect the independence and impartiality of the
judiciary at all levels.
9. The Committee has noted uncertainty
about the status
of the Covenant in the State party's internal legal framework. It notes
that, pursuant to article 17 of the Treaty Law of December 1998, the Covenant
has the same status as domestic law. However, doubts remain as to whether
the Covenant would have primacy over domestic law if the latter is in conflict
with Covenant provisions. The State party is requested to provide information,
in its next periodic report to the Committee, about the situation that would
prevail in the event of a conflict between the Covenant and domestic law,
including the Constitution. The Committee wishes to receive from the State
party more precise information about the number of cases in which the Covenant
has been in fact invoked before the domestic courts, and with what result.
10. The Committee is concerned that,
in addition to judicial protection, there is no independent national institution
for the promotion and protection of human rights. It considers that article
69 of the Constitution and the Law on Complaint and Petition granting every
citizen the right to submit complaints about the encroachment of his or
her rights is no substitute for such an independent monitoring body.
The State party should consider the
establishment of a national human rights institution (art. 2 of the Covenant).
11. The Committee is further concerned
about the limited number of human rights organizations in the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea, and the limited access to the State party's
territory that is accorded to human rights organizations, as reflected in
the small number
of international human rights non-governmental organizations that have been
granted permission to visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea over
the past decade.
The State party should grant access
to its territory to international human rights organizations and other international
bodies on a regular basis at their request and ensure accessibility to indispensable
information about the promotion and protection of human rights.
12. Given the State party's obligation,
under article 6 of the Covenant, to protect the life of its citizens and
to take measures to reduce infant mortality and increase life expectancy,
the Committee remains seriously concerned
about the lack of measures by the State party to deal with the food and
nutrition situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the
lack of measures to address, in cooperation with the international community,
the causes and consequences of the drought and other natural disasters which
seriously affected the country's population in the 1990s.
The Committee recalls paragraph 5 of
its General Comment No. 6 on article 6 of the Covenant, adopted at its sixth
session, which recommends that States parties "take all possible measures
to reduce infant mortality and increase life expectancy, especially in adopting
measures to eliminate malnutrition". The State party should provide the
Committee with supplementary information on this issue.
13. The Committee takes note of the
delegation's information that the death penalty has rarely been imposed
and carried out in the past three years. While the Committee appreciates
that the number of offences carrying the death penalty has been reduced
to five, it remains seriously concerned that, of those five offences, as
the report states, four are essentially political offences (arts. 44, 45,
47 and 52 of the Criminal Code), couched
in terms so broad that the imposition of the death penalty may be subject
to essentially subjective criteria, and not be confined to "the most serious
crimes" only, as required under article 6, paragraph 2, of the Covenant.
The Committee is also concerned at acknowledged and reported instances of
The State party should review and amend
the above-mentioned articles of the Criminal Code to bring them into conformity
with the requirements of article 6, paragraph 2, of the Covenant. The State
party should refrain from any public executions. It is invited to work towards
the declared goal of abolishing capital punishment.
14. The Committee considers that article
10 of the Criminal Code, under which punishment for an offence not provided
for in the Code will be imposed in accordance with those provisions of the
Code punishing offences similar in nature and gravity, is incompatible with
the concept of "nullum crimen sine lege", enshrined in article 15 of the
The State party should repeal article
10 of the Criminal Code.
15. The Committee is deeply concerned
about consistent and substantiated allegations of violations, by law enforcement
personnel, of article 7 of the Covenant, to which the delegation has not
sufficiently responded. The information given by the delegation about the
small number of complaints of ill-treatment in custody or detention (six
complaints between 1998 and 2000) is difficult to accept as a reflection
of the actual situation, in
the light of the material available to the Committee, which suggests that
the number of instances of ill-treatment and torture is significantly higher.
The State party should ensure that
all instances of ill-treatment and of torture and other abuses committed
by agents of the State are promptly considered and investigated by an independent
body. The State party should institute a system of independent oversight
of all places of detention and custody with a view to preventing any act
of abuse of power by law enforcement personnel.
16. The Committee takes note of the
information provided by the delegation on the conditions of detention in
prisons of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Committee nonetheless
remains concerned about the many allegations of cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment and conditions and of inadequate medical care in reform institutions,
prisons and prison camps, which appear to be in violation of articles 7
and 10 of the Covenant and of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment
The State party should take steps to
improve conditions in the facilities referred to above and all other facilities
for detention in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It must ensure
that all persons deprived of their liberty are treated with humanity and
with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, as required by
article 10 of the Covenant. The State party must ensure that sufficient
food and appropriate and timely medical care are available to all detainees.
The Committee strongly recommends that the State party allow for independent
internal and international inspection of prisons, reform institutions and
other places of detention or imprisonment.
17. Notwithstanding the explanations
given by the delegation, the Committee continues to harbour serious doubts
about the compatibility of the provisions of Chapter Two of the Labour Law
of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, especially articles 14 and
18 thereof, with the prohibition of forced labour contained in article 8,
paragraph 3 (a), of the Covenant.
The State party should amend the above-mentioned
provisions of the Labour Law so as to avoid any potential conflict with
the provisions of article 8 of the Covenant.
18. While noting the delegation's explanations
about the nature and purpose of pre-trial detention and about preliminary
investigations tending to prolong the duration of pre-trial detention (see
paragraph 65 of the report) , the Committee remains concerned about the
compatibility of the State party's pre-trial detention practices and preliminary
investigation procedures with article 9 of the Covenant.
The duration of detention before a person
is brought before a judge is manifestly incompatible with article 9, paragraph
3, of the Covenant.
The State party's next report should
contain statistics on the number of persons held in pre-trial detention
and on the duration of and reasons for such detention. The State party must
ensure that anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge is brought
promptly before a judge. The State party must ensure that all of its practices
are consistent with the provisions of article 9 of the Covenant and that
detainees have access to counsel and are permitted to contact their families
from the moment of apprehension.
19. The Committee has noted the State
party's justification of the "traveller's certificate" which citizens of
the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are required to obtain for travel
within the country, but considers that such restrictions on domestic travel
raise serious questions about their compatibility with article 12, paragraph
1, of the Covenant.
The State party should consider the
elimination of the requirement of traveller's certificates.
20. In the Committee's opinion, the
requirement, under the Immigration Law of the Democratic People's Republic
of Korea, of administrative permission to travel abroad, and the requirement,
for foreigners in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, to obtain exit
visas to leave the country, are incompatible with the provisions of article
12, paragraph 2, of the Covenant.
The State party should eliminate the
requirement of administrative permission and an exit visa as a general rule
and require them only in individual cases that can be justified in the light
of the Covenant.
21. While noting that the expulsion
of aliens is exercised "with great prudence" (para. 82 of the report), the
Committee regrets that there is no law, or formal procedure, governing the
expulsion of aliens from the territory of the Democratic People's Republic
Before expelling an alien, the State
party should provide him or her with sufficient safeguards and an effective
remedy, in conformity with article 13 of the Covenant. The State party is
urged to consider the adoption of legislation governing the expulsion of
aliens, which should be consistent with the principle of non-refoulement.
22. The Committee notes with regret
that the delegation was unable to provide up-to-date information about religious
freedoms in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. As only 40,000 citizens
of the country (i.e., less than 0.2 per cent of the population), grouped
into four religious communities, are said to be "believers", and in the
light of information available to the Committee that religious practice
is repressed or strongly
discouraged in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Committee
is seriously concerned that the State party's practice in this respect does
not meet the requirements of article 18 of the Covenant.
The State party is requested to provide
the Committee with up-to-date information about the number of citizens of
the Democratic People's Republic of Korea belonging to religious communities
and the number of places of worship, as well as the practical measures taken
by the authorities to guarantee the freedom of exercise of religious practice
by the communities mentioned in paragraph 112 of the report.
23. The Committee is concerned that
various provisions of the Press Law, and their frequent invocation, are
difficult to reconcile with the provisions of article 19 of the Covenant.
The Committee is concerned that the notion of "threat to the State security"
may be used in such ways as to restrict freedom of expression. Also, the
Committee is concerned that the permanent presence in the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea of
foreign media representatives is confined to journalists from three countries,
and foreign newspapers and publications are not readily available to the
public at large. Moreover, Democratic People's Republic of Korea journalists
may not travel abroad freely.
The State party should specify the
reasons that have led to the prohibition of certain publications and should
refrain from measures that restrict the availability of foreign newspapers
to the public. The State party is requested to relax restrictions on the
travel abroad by Democratic People's Republic of Korea journalists and to
avoid any use of the notion of "threat to the State security" that would
repress freedom of expression, contrary to article 19.
24. The Committee has noted the delegation's
statement that freedom of assembly is fully respected in the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea. The Committee remains concerned, however, about
restrictions on public meetings and demonstrations, including possible abuse
of the requirements of the laws governing assembly.
The Committee requests the State party
to provide additional information on the conditions for public assemblies
and, in particular, to indicate whether and under what conditions the holding
of a public assembly can be prevented and whether such a measure can be
25. The provisions of article 25
include the right of every citizen of a State
party to have the right and the opportunity, without the restrictions mentioned
in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions, to take part in the
conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives
(art. 25 (a)), and to vote or be elected at genuine periodic elections which
shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot,
guaranteeing the free expression of the wish of the electors. The Committee
has taken note of the delegation's explanation that, as there has been no
popular manifestation of any desire to create new political parties, no
regulation or legislation governing the creation and registration of political
parties is currently envisaged. The Committee considers that this situation
runs counter to the provisions of article 25 of the Covenant, as it may
adversely affect the rights of citizens to participate in the conduct of
public affairs through freely chosen representatives, as required by article
The State party should refer to the
Committee's General Comment 25 on article 25, adopted at its fifty-seventh
session, as guidance in respect of the above issues, with a view to ensuring
full compliance with the provisions of article 25.
26. While noting the delegation's statement
that trafficking of women does not exist in the Democratic People's Republic
of Korea, the Committee remains seriously concerned at the number of substantiated
allegations about trafficking of women, in violation of article 8 of the
to its attention by non-governmental and other sources, including the report
of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women of the Commission on
The State party should investigate
the above allegations further, in a spirit of cooperation, and report its
findings to the Committee.
27. The Committee notes with concern
the low level of representation of women at the more senior levels of the
public sector, as well as the absence of any precise data on the representation
of women in other sectors of the economy, including their level of responsibility.
The State party is requested to take
measures to implement articles 3 and 26 of the Covenant by improving women's
participation in the public sector workforce, especially in senior positions,
and to provide the Committee with statistical data on the status of women,
in particular as to the level of their responsibility and remuneration in
the major economic sectors.
28. The State party should ensure that
its second periodic report, and the present concluding observations, are
29. The State party should indicate
within one year, in accordance with rule 70, paragraph 5, of the Committee's
rules of procedure, the measures it has taken or envisages to give effect
to the Committee's recommendations contained in paragraphs 15, 22, 23, 24
and 26 of the
present concluding observations.
30. The Committee requests that the
information relating to its other recommendations and to the Covenant as
a whole should be included in the third periodic report of the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea, to be submitted by 1 January 2004.