Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons

Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons

Dear Colleague:

On behalf of the IBA and the co-organizers of the Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons, I write to invite you to a groundbreaking hearing that will feature live testimony from three North Korean defectors: a former prisoner, a former prison guard,  and a former official from the Ministry of People’s Security, which oversees North Korea’s network of gulags.  Three renowned jurists will preside over the hearing:  Navanethem Pillay (Chair), Mark Harmon, and  Thomas Buergenthal.  Collectively, these luminaries have served on the International Criminal Court (ICC), International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (ECCC),  and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  Notably, it was during Ms. Pillay’s tenure as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“COI”)  conducted its investigation and issued its landmark report.   The hearing also will feature expert testimony from renowned experts on North Korea’s gulags and its penal system generally -- David Hawk and Ken Gause.    With pro bono assistance from the law firm of Hogan Lovells, the case will be presented by members of the IBA’s War Crimes Committee, Greg Kehoe, Federica D’Alessandra and Steven Kay, Q.C., the latter of whom worked on notable trials such as the Milosevic case (ICTY), and the Kenyatta case (ICC).

The hearing will be held at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) on DECEMBER 8th in Washington, D.C.

The Inquiry is an unofficial follow-on to the United Nations COI referenced above, and will focus solely on alleged crimes against humanity in North Korean political prisons.  The Inquiry seeks to advance three goals: (1) to increase awareness of human rights violations in North Korean political prisons, (2) to explore the practical and legal barriers associated with holding the architects and overseers of the political prison system accountable for alleged crimes against humanity, and (3) to provide a model that other civil society organizations may wish to replicate when accountability for past or ongoing human rights violations has proven elusive because of inaction by the international community or otherwise.

To RSVP, please click HERE or anywhere on the e-flyer above. Finally, should you have any questions about the event, please contact Ms. Sosseh Prom at

I look forward to seeing you on December 8.  Until then, I wish you all the best.


Michael Maya


International Bar Association, North America Office

1667 K Street NW, Suite 1230, Washington, DC 20006|

Tel: +1 (202) 827-3385| Fax: +1 (202) 733-5657

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