Jim Dobbin MP, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, received written responses to two questions concerning the UK Government’s response to allegations of genocide in the DPRK and UNCOI Recommendation 1224, which calls for states to aid efforts to broadcast information to North Koreans.
In his first question, Jim Dobbin MP raised the findings of a recent independent legal report commissioned by Human Liberty and documented by Hogan Lovells, which claimed that the DPRK Government may be guilty of genocide through its specific targeting of political, religious and ethnic groups in the country.
Hogan Lovells noted:
“We consider that there may be good arguments that the targeting by DPRK state-controlled officials of groups classified by the DPRK as being in the hostile class, Christians, and children of Chinese heritage with the intent to destroy such groups could be found to amount to genocide,” the report states. It also recommends further investigation of the possibility genocide to include, “collecting as much testimony as possible from victims, refugees and defectors and ensuring that such testimony is collected to a court evidence standard.”
Acknowledging the Hogan Lovells report, Hugo Swire MP, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, did not comment on the report’s findings of possible genocide in the DPRK, but noted that “the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) were unable to establish the crime of genocide on religious grounds, because the available evidence in this respect was ambiguous”.
At a speech made at King’s College London in March 2014, Justice Michael Kirby, Chair of the UNCOI, addressed the debate concerning genocide in the DPRK. Noting the inherent conflict in international law between a workable and widely accepted concept of crimes against humanity and the more expansive and contested concept of genocide, Justice Kirby claimed that whilst Commissioners generally “tended to favour an expansion to a wider category”, crimes against humanity “is already a gold-standard international crime” and the COI’s decision to adopt this concept was based upon its workability and the vast amounts of evidence collected by the Commission.
Responding to the second question posed by Jim Dobbin MP, which asked whether the UK Government supported UNCOI Recommendation 1224 and whether any steps had been taken to aid the work of human rights non-governmental organisations to broadcast accessible information into the DPRK, Hugo Swire MP stated that “The UK does not currently provide financial support to any of the organisations making cross-border broadcasts into the DPRK”.
The Minister went on to note that the UK’s direct engagement with the DPRK Government, such as its English-language teaching programmes for select North Korean students and its culture training courses for DPRK officials, complemented “the efforts of others, like the US, who support broadcasts into North Korea”.