News & Updates 30 August 2023

South Korea: AJAR Shares Experiences and Practices in Pursuing Justice for Victims of Enforced Disappearance

Seoul, South Korea, 30 August 2023 — To mark the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearance, the UN Human Rights Office in Seoul today held a conference featuring comparative examples from other countries and regions on judicial accountability, return of remains and memory for victims of enforced disappearance. Examples included practices from Nepal, Cyprus, Spain, and the broader Asia-Pacific region addressing the rights of victims of enforced disappearance, including family members of forcibly disappeared persons.

Our Executive Director, Galuh Wandita, presented her insights for cases of impunity that happened in Asia. Sharing that memory is important for survivors of human rights violations in their long struggle to truth, she reiterated that civil society and partner organisations can empower survivors to cherish both good and bad memories and support memorialisation processes.

In March 2023, the UN Human Rights Office released the report ‘These wounds do not heal’, which examinesenforced disappearances and abductions bythe DPRK dating back to 1950. The Deputy High Commissioner noted that the report “unveils the harrowing accounts of those who have suffered the anguish of enforced disappearance and abduction at the hands of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. These include arbitrary detentions within the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, abductions of individuals from the Republic of Korea during and after the Korean War, the non-repatriation of prisoners of war, and the abduction of nationals from Japan and other States. The number of direct victims is staggering, reaching 200,000 individuals. To these we must add hundreds of thousands of other victims: their families and loved ones.”

The conference brought together families of disappeared persons, experts, practitioners, civil society organizations, and members of the diplomatic community to share their experiences in pursuing truth, justice and reparations. The UN Human Rights Office hopes the conference will stimulate collaborative relationships and further discussion on best practices to seek judicial and non-judicial forms of accountability for enforced disappearance and other human rights violations in the DPRK, with urgent emphasis on the rights of all victims.

Read the press release from UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner in Seoul – DPRK: UN Human Rights Office brings together global experience on pursuing justice for victims of enforced disappearance.