June 18, 2014
While the Committee asked me to focus my remarks on US government policy on human rights abuses in North Korea, I should begin with a description of those abuses and the totalitarian nature of the Pyongyang regime. (My views described here are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of Texas A&M or of the Bush School or of the Committee on Human Rights in North Korea). North Korea remains one of the few surviving Communist states in the world, and the only one of these which continues to resist any serious political or economic reform. Cuba, Vietnam, China, and Laos have all taken steps to privatize sectors of their economy, and given individual citizens small amounts of choice in their private lives, even if they remain authoritarian states. North Korea is thus in a unique category of its own, a single totalitarian dinosaur remaining of an otherwise virtually extinct species.
March 26, 2014
HRNK Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu testifies on Capitol Hill: "The Shocking Truth about North Korean Tyranny."
March 05, 2012
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Unable to Attend in Person
Statement of Roberta Cohen, Chair, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and Non-Resident Senior Fellow, the Brookings Institution, on China’s Repatriation of North Korean Refugees, at the Hearing of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, March 5, 2012
On behalf of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, I would like to express great appreciation to Congressman Christopher Smith and Senator Sherrod Brown for holding this hearing today to highlight the case of an estimated 30 to 40 North Koreans who fled into China and now risk being forcibly returned to North Korea where they will most assuredly be severely punished. We consider it essential to defend the fundamental rights of North Koreans to leave their country and seek asylum abroad and to call upon China to stop its forcible repatriation of North Koreans and provide them with the needed human rights and humanitarian protection to which they are entitled. The right to leave a country, to seek asylum abroad and not to be forcibly returned to conditions of danger are internationally recognized rights which North Korea and China, like all other countries, are obliged to respect.
This particular case of North Koreans has captured regional and international attention. South Korean President Lee Myung Bak has spoken out publicly against the return of the North Koreans and National Assembly woman Park Sun Young has undertaken a hunger strike in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul. The Parliamentary Forum for Democracy encompassing 18 countries has urged its members to raise the matter with their governments.
The case, however, is situated at the tip of the iceberg. According to the State Department’s Human Rights Report (2010), there may be thousands or tens
March 05, 2012
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Good afternoon, Chairman Smith, Cochairman Brown, and members of the Commission.
On behalf of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, thank you for inviting me to speak with you at this hearing today. Our Committee considers it essential to draw attention to the case of 30 to 40 North Koreans who have been arrested by China and who now risk being forcibly returned to North Korea where they most assuredly will be subjected to severe punishment in violation of international refugee and human rights law. The fundamental right to leave a country, to seek asylum abroad and not to be forcibly returned to conditions of danger are internationally recognized rights which China and North Korea must be obliged to respect.
Mr. Chair, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea is a Washington DC-based non-governmental organization, established in 2001. Our Committee’s main statement has been prepared by Chair Roberta Cohen, who was unable to be here today. I will draw upon that statement in my opening remarks.
Over the past two decades, considerable numbers of North Koreans have risked their lives to cross the border into China. They have done so because of starvation, economic deprivation or political persecution. It is estimated that there are thousands or tens of thousands in China today. Most are vulnerable to forced returns where they will face persecution and punishment because leaving North Korea without permission is a criminal offense. Yet to China, all North Koreans are economic migrants, and over the years, it has forcibly returned tens of thousands to conditions of danger. According to the testimonies and reports received by the Committee for Human Rights, the North Koreans returned to their country endure cruel and inhuman punishment including beatings, torture, detention, forced labor, sexual viole
September 20, 2011
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Good afternoon, Chairman Smith, Mr. Payne, and members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today about the human rights situation in North Korea, as that country prepares for a second hereditary transmission of top leadership, and about the apparent increase in the amount of information getting into North Korea. It is an honor and privilege to have an opportunity to discuss these issues with you today.
After North Korean leader Kim Jong-il allegedly suffered a stroke in the summer of 2008, the Kim regime proceeded with preparations for third generation succession. In September 2010, one day ahead of a rare Workers’ Party of Korea conference in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-il’s third son, Kim Jong-un, was made a daejang, the equivalent to an American Four-Star General. Kim Jongun’s selection as one of the two Vice-Chairmen of North Korea’s National Defense Commission and the Workers’ Party Central Military Commission appears to confirm that he has been designated to succeed Kim Jong-il as leader of North Korea. According to experts, should Kim Jong-un become North Korea’s leader, it is likely that Kim Jong-un’s uncle Chang Sung-taek will act as
June 02, 2011
I thank the Committee for its invitation to testify on the implementation of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, re-authorized in 2008. I represent, as Executive Director, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, a bi-partisan, Washington-based research and advocacy organization devoted to the advancement of the human rights of the people of North Korea. I should add that my views in all likelihood do not reflect the views of every member of the Board.
I speak here today as an individual who has spent many years working on this issue, including service here in the House of Representatives over ten years ago as the senior defense and foreign policy advisor of the Policy Committee, during which time I worked with this Committee on a number of matters relating to North Korea. This included the DoD Authorization Act which established the role of North Korea Policy coordinator in 1998, the report of the Speaker‟s Special Advisory Group on North Korea in 1999 (available at:
http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/dprk/nkag-report.htm), and the first steps that were taken toward
the enactment of the North Korean Human Rights Act which became law in 2004. I know from first-hand experience the deep interest and profound dedication of members and staff of this Committee, on North Korean human rights issues, and applaud your consistent efforts to protect the people of North Korea from the human rights abuses afflicted on them by their own regime.
In 2009, our co-chair the late Stephen J. Solarz, a distinguished former member of Congress and chairman of an important Subcommittee of this Committee, convened a group of human rights specialists in Washington to discuss priorities for addressing the human rights crisis in North Korea. Under his leadership, we developed a set of ten policy recommendations, a key one of which was to enhance the implementation of the North Korea Human Rights Act.
We recommended that the administration establish a specific office with the res
June 02, 2011
Committee on Foreign Affairs U. S. House of Representatives 112th Congress
Thank you, Madam Chairman. It is a great pleasure for me to be here today. As some of you may recall, I spent a few years working on Capitol Hill for the Policy Committee. I have the greatest respect for this particular committee and everything you have done for North Korea.
I appear before you today as the executive director of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and my statement goes through a number of issues relating to North Korea, all of which you are familiar with. But you have asked me to focus on the North Korean Human Rights Act today, which this committee sponsored in 2004, and Madam Chairwoman, you reauthorized as recently as 2008. It is a great piece of legislation, one that stands as a hallmark of the American people’s interest in the human rights of the people of North Korea. You are to be commented for that incredible achievement, and it gives us a roadmap from which we can look at a number of issues relating to North Korean human rights.
Bob King, whose excellent appearance today, his fine testimony, and his recent trip to North Korea, is a living example of how wise it was to create a position of Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights.
My organization had the pleasure of having as its distinguished co-chair for many years the late Congressman Stephen Solarz. I actually remember helping people prepare for testimony before Congressman Solarz when he was the chairman of one of your subcommittees.
His death is a great loss, as is that of former Congressman Lantos, he is with us in spirit today.
Two thousand and four was an extremely interesting year for human rights in North Korea. You will all immediately think that that was the year that the North Korean Human Rights Act was passed. I believe it was passed on July 21st of 2004. The same year, a former U.S. military defector, Charles Jenkins, managed to put