Parliamentary question by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission




Parliamentary questions
WRITTEN QUESTION E-3840/02
by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission
(18 December 2002)

Subject: Evidence of the existence of concentration camps in North Korea


The existence of concentration camps - forced labour camps - in North Korea, about which there was talk for a long time, but which had never been confirmed by non-North Korean witnesses, has been proved by satellite images which the Far Eastern Economic Review published after obtaining them from a commercial satellite imagery provider.

The images were recognised as showing the Haengyong concentration and labour camp by a former prison guard, Ahn Myong Chol, who defected to South Korea in 1994.

The South Koreans and American intelligence sources had long encouraged the rumour that they had satellite photographs of the camps in their possession, but the supposed evidence was never published.

Does the Commission have the same kind of satellite images or has it been informed by one of the Member States in possession of similar evidence about the existence of concentration camps in North Korea? Does the Commission have any information about the existence of other concentration camps in North Korea which could be proven by satellite images? When does the Commission expect to forward to the relevant European Parliament committee the satellite images or any other evidence of the existence of concentration camps in North Korea and what political initiatives does it intend to take vis-à-vis the Pyongyang government to induce it to close all the concentration camps immediately and release all the prisoners without delay?

E-3840/02EN
Answer given by Mr Patten
on behalf of the Commission
(29 January 2003)


The Commission has received reports from various international human rights organisations, in particular Amnesty International, alleging the existence of concentration camps in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK). Nevertheless, the Commission has not received any satellite images proving the existence of such camps.

The human rights situation in the DPRK remains of major concern to the Union and is therefore being followed very closely. Human rights issues, including the possible existence of concentration camps, are systematically raised during regular political contacts with the North Korean authorities. The last occasion was in June 2002 in Pyongyang.

The Commission can assure the Honourable Member that it will continue to monitor closely the human rights situation in the DPRK and will raise human rights concerns in its contacts with the DPRK authorities.