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Norh Koreans Suffer from Torture and Starvation

Long-standing concerns about human rights violations in North Korea include the use of torture, the death penalty, arbitrary detention and imprisonment, inhumane prison conditions and the almost complete suppression of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and movement. Many human rights abuses in North Korea are linked to the famine and acute food shortages which have affected the country since the mid-1990s. Widespread malnutrition among the population and the movement of hundreds of thousands of people in search of food has led to many North Koreans becoming the victims of human rights violations as a result of their search for food and survival. Freedom from hunger and malnutrition is one of the most fundamental rights enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights.

North Korea relies heavily on international aid to feed its population, but still many suffer from hunger and malnutrition. According to a study published by the Food and Agricultural Organization, 13 million people in North Korea (over half of the population) suffer from malnutrition. Many people in the country also lack adequate medical care due to lack of medical personnel and supplies.

North Korea needs to ensure that international food aid and other supplies are distributed equally among its population, without discrimination. The government should seek outside assistance if it cannot provide needed food supplies. Likewise, foreign states able to help must do so without tying it to particular political issues. Most importantly, the North Korean government must stop using food as a negotiating tool with its citizens.

AI INDEX: ASA 24/002/2003 11 April 2003

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