NGO report

The Death Penalty in North Korea: In the machinery of a totalitarian State

By International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) / Speedy Rice, on 1 January 2012

The death penalty is a violation of the right to life; however, its use in the DPRK has, overthe years, been particularly extensive and substantially different from other countries. Thisis partly due to the DPRK’s totalitarian system, characterized by widespread and systematichuman rights violations that aim at maintaining social order and political control.While the government of the Republic of Korea (also known as South Korea) has retained thedeath penalty, it is considered to be abolitionist in practice, having carried out no executionssince December 1997. By contrast, the DPRK has consistently used the death penalty, and hasnever allowed any organization to investigate the matter. Nevertheless, information derivedfrom witness observations and the few existing reliable reports, reveal thousands of executionssince the 1950s, with the largest numbers in the 1990s and the 2000s. Since 2010, dozens ofpeoplehavebeenexecuted.TheDPRK’sintensesecrecyjustifiestheconclusionthattheselargenumbersarelowerthantheactualfiguresinreality.