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The IBA’s response to the situation in Ukraine
The International Bar Association (IBA) War Crimes Committee and the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) are to hold a live hearing – on Friday 4 March 2022 in Washington DC, United States – to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for the International Criminal Court (ICC), or a special international tribunal, to open an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed in North Korea by ‘Supreme Leader’ Kim Jong-un, high level government officials, internal security officials and low-level prison guards.
Presiding over the Hearing, in connection with an Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Detention Centers, will be four internationally renowned judges: Navanethem ‘Navi’ Pillay (South Africa), Dame Silvia Cartwright (New Zealand), Silvia Fernandez (Argentina), and Wolfgang Schomburg (Germany). It is the first time during the Kim dynasty’s 74-year reign that judges of this stature have assembled to assess the potential culpability of North Korean state actors for crimes against humanity.
The judges will hear testimony from experts on North Korea’s political system and six North Korean defectors, four of whom will testify in person giving accounts of the crimes they assert they were subjected to while held in North Korean detention centres. Reported crimes include rape, forced abortions (some without anaesthesia), infanticide, starvation, torture, violent persecution of Christians, and vicious beatings that resulted in the death of detainees. Reports reveal many detainees regularly attempted suicide, including by swallowing nails, safety pins and needles.
One witness who will testify on 4 March stated: ‘The only reason I was able to endure all the humiliation and shame and torture I was subjected to there was because I told myself, moment by moment, that I am not a human being, but I am a beast. The moment I considered myself human, I would not have been able to endure all the mental and physical pain.’
IBA War Crimes Committee lawyers and pro bono lawyers from the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton will present evidence of the commission of ten crimes against humanity under the ICC’s Rome Statute – the treaty that established the Court – including murder, extermination, enslavement, forcible transfer, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearances, and a catch-all category referred to as ‘other inhumane acts'.
Greg Kehoe, past Co-Chair of the IBA War Crimes Committee and the senior lawyer presenting evidence of North Korea’s alleged crimes against humanity at the Hearing, commented: ‘North Korea’s network of detention centres has largely eluded the scrutiny of the international community over the decades but, as the number of North Korean defectors increases and accounts of brutal treatment carried out against detainees multiply, it has become indefensible for the international community to continue sitting on its hands.’ He added: ‘We expect to demonstrate at the March 4 Hearing that there are reasonable grounds to conclude that scores of North Korean state actors, from Kim Jong-un to low-level guards, should be investigated and prosecuted for committing some of the most heinous crimes against humanity ever documented in modern times.’
The Hearing will also draw on evidence from:
The Hearing in connection with an Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Detention Centers will be held on Friday 4 March 2022 from 0900 - 1730 (EST). For further information about the event contact Ashna Basnet at Ashna.Basnet@int-bar.org or Michael Maya at Michael.Maya@int-bar.org.
Register online here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc2hTemodQsAjf-25IRijUr7cMBXZIuzOatPDiLg6vhIKlOJg/viewform
Notes to the Editor
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Website page link for this news release:
Short link: https://tinyurl.com/yckjmzr4
Full link: https://www.ibanet.org/North-Korea-Hearing-to-determine-if-Kim-Jong-un-should-be-investigated-by-the-ICC-for-crimes-against-humanity