A South Korean court has dismissed an appeal by a group of defectors in South Korea and Japan, requesting humanitarian relief and protection for their family members imprisoned in North Korean detention camps. This marks the first time that a verdict regarding humanitarian relief for those in North Korean detention camps has been reached by a South Korean court.
Judge Jung Jae Woo announced that the claims of two North Korean defectors to provide humanitarian protection for four family members currently imprisoned at the Yodok political prison camp were dismissed. Such dismissals enable the court to end a trial without hearing if the claims are deemed as improper or unsuitable.
The North Korean Defectors’ Council for the Promotion of Freedom and Unification, which led the current lawsuit, had argued, “North Korea is technically a territory of the Republic of Korea according to the Constitution, therefore, North Korean residents have the same rights according to the law as South Korean citizens.”
The judge explained, “It is almost impossible for the litigators to predict or execute the outcomes of the trial even if the verdict of discharge is made, because there are no mechanisms to enforce it.”
Judge Jung also dismissed a human rights relief petition from Kawasaki Echo (aged 74), president of the defectors’ community ‘Korea of All’ in Japan, requesting the release of 93,340 people who boarded repatriation ships to the North between the years 1959-1984. The dismissal was based on the determination that president Kawasaki was unable to specify the names of the captives or their locations, thereby rendering the petition unsuitable for filing.