19 December 2011

Human Rights Watch calls for reform in North Korea in wake of dictator's death

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il died over the weekend. His youngest son, Kim Jong Un, has been groomed to be his successor.

In light of the dictator's death, Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned his record of human rights abuse and called for reform.

"Kim Jong-Il will be remembered as the brutal overseer of massive and systematic oppression that included a willingness to let his people starve," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of HRW.

"North Korea under Kim Jong-Il has been a human rights hell on earth." Roth added. "Kim Jong-Il ruled through fear generated by systematic and pervasive human rights abuses including arbitrary executions, torture, forced labor and strict limits on freedom of speech and association."

"When he assumes leadership, Kim Jong-Un should break with the past and put the human rights of North Koreans first, not last," said Roth.

Roth also called for pressure from the international community: "The international community should take this transitory period of power in North Korea to press for the country's new leader to steer the country in a new direction and cease repression of its citizens. Pressing North Korea to comply with human rights demands contained in the latest UN General Assembly resolution on North Korea, and allowing the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea to visit the country, would be a good start."

All good goals, but I shall not hold my breath.

Stay tuned.

>> Read HRW's full news release on this subject.

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