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Death penalty prevails in North Korea, white paper says

North Korea under Kim Jong Un has stepped up border control and punishment for viewing South Korean media, a South Korean white paper says. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
North Korea under Kim Jong Un has stepped up border control and punishment for viewing South Korean media, a South Korean white paper says. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

May 11 (UPI) -- Capital punishment is still widespread in North Korea, but public executions and other forms of severe punishment could be receding, according to a South Korean report.

State-owned think tank Korea Institute for National Unification said Monday in its annual white paper on North Korea human rights there is no evidence the right to life is guaranteed in the Kim Jong Un regime, Yonhap reported.

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The 2020 white paper, based on testimonies of defectors resettled in the South, cited cases of public executions for North Koreans accused of drug trafficking, murder and even watching South Korean videos.

The South Korean research found the cases of the death penalty for drug trafficking as well as watching or disseminating South Korean media has been "increasing in recent years."

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The paper said political prison camps continue to flourish in the North. These facilities are separate from officially registered prisons in the regime and inflict "arbitrary acts" of punishment on captives.

People who attempt to flee to the South, and the brokers who try to help them, continue to be detained in political prison camps, the paper says.

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The report also says border control has tightened under the current North Korean leader.

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"It is feared the violations of the human rights of forcibly repatriated North Koreans will intensify," the paper states.

North Korean authorities also continue to abuse their power through "illegal arrests, unjust trials, surveillance and eavesdropping." North Koreans have poor access to education and transparent information, the white paper said.

But while human rights violations prevail in the country, the regime's notorious public executions may be dwindling, "relative to the past," the paper says.

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"It has been evident instances of mobilizing people to forcibly witness public executions are decreasing," the South Korean report stated.

On Monday North Korean propaganda service Meari slammed South Korean President Moon Jae-in's New Northern Policy, which addresses other nations in Northeast Asia.

Meari said Moon's policy offers false cooperation and the involvement of "foreign powers." Seoul has previously called for reconnecting railways that would link the two Koreas.

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