Human rights group identifies over 300 execution sites in North Korea

Human rights group identifies over 300 execution sites in North Korea
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A South Korean human rights group has identified more than 300 North Korean state-sanctioned executions that have taken place under the leadership of Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnChina's tanks are sure to return with Hong Kong protests China's tanks are sure to return with Hong Kong protests 2020 Dems can't give Trump the high ground on national security MORE by the accounts of more than 600 first- or second-hand witnesses. 

The Transitional Justice Working Group, a Seoul-based NGO, released the findings Tuesday in a follow up to a 2017 report after more than four years of research. The report notes the findings are not definitive due to limitations, such as not having access to the country. 

Ahead of each execution, a "brief 'trial'" is held on the spot where charges are read, according to the report. The accused "often appears 'half dead'" by the time they are brought to the site, according to the report. 

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The report found the most commonly cited offenses for killings included murder, stealing copper, human trafficking, property theft and economic crimes. 

"However, given the lack of due process in the North Korean judicial system it is difficult to know whether the charges announced at an execution actually match the act committed by the accused," the report notes. 

Crowds of 1,000 or more people attend public executions, typically at river banks or other open spaces, according to the report. Almost all reported killings were by firing squads. 

Family members are often forced to watch killings, the report alleges. The youngest participant reported witnessing an execution was 7 years old. 

Of the 83 percent of research participants that witnessed an execution, 53 percent reported being forced to watch by authorities. 

The Transitional Justice Working Group said in the report the "routine killings" and denying families the right to proper burials has "profound effects that last long after the event," and impacts the grieving process. 

"In a culture where ancestors are believed to continue to play a role in the lives of the living, the DPRK's [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] human rights violations constitute an affront from all sides," the report states.