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Hearing Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Detention Centers - In Person and Virtual

We invite you to a landmark Hearing in connection with an Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Detention Centers, the site of some of the most grievous human rights violations in the contemporary world, that is being led by the Committee on Human Rights in North Korea and the International Bar Association.   The Hearing will be conducted in-person at HRNK's home, the DACOR Bacon House, 1801 F Street, NW, Washington, DC, and virtually, via Zoom. For security reasons, login information will be shared with confirmed virtual participants the day prior to the event.

A central goal of the Hearing is to determine culpability for alleged crimes against humanity that have been, and continue to be, committed in North Korean detention centers. Greg Kehoe and Kirsty Sutherland, two lawyers from the IBA War Crimes Committee, will join forces with a team of pro bono lawyers to present evidence in support of the assertion that state actors ranging from Kim Jong-un to low-level guards have committed 10 of the 11 crimes against humanity enumerated in the Rome Statute, which gave rise to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The Hearing will feature live testimony from at least four survivors of North Korean detention centers on the incidence of torture, rape, forced abortions, infanticide, starvation, persecution of Christians, and executions to punish “enemies of the state.” Further, experts will share satellite images of secret detention centers and will discuss North Korea’s command and control structure and its implications for holding senior government officials accountable for crimes against humanity.

Four renowned international jurists – Navi Pillay (S. Africa), Silvia Fernandez (Argentina), Dame Silvia Cartwright (N. Zealand) and Wolfgang Schomburg (Germany) – will preside over the all-day Hearing. Together, these four jurists have served on, or have been presidents of, some of the most consequential international criminal tribunals since the Nuremberg trials, including the International Criminal Court, and the tribunals for Rwanda, Cambodia, and the former Yugoslavia.

P R E S I D I N G    J U D G E S:

1. NAVI PILLAY (Chair) is a South African jurist and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. During her UN tenure, Judge Pillay appointed Justice Michael Kirby (Australia) to conduct the landmark UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK (2014). She also served as President of the Rwanda Tribunal, and as a judge on the International Criminal Court. (Note: Judge Pillay chaired the IBA’s 2017 Inquiry on North Korean political prisons.)

2. SILVIA FERNANDEZ previously served as the President of the International Criminal Court, and currently serves as the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (2021-2023).

3. WOLFGANG SCHOMBURG served as Germany’s first judge on the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal and Rwanda Tribunal.

4. DAME SILVIA CARTWRIGHT is the former Governor-General of New Zealand and served as an international judge on the Cambodia Tribunal.