Up to 200,000 prisoners are being held "in horrific conditions" in six concentration camps in North Korea, Amnesty International said at a press conference in Seoul Thursday to publicize its annual report.
The report said men, women and children are tortured, ill-treated, and forced to work in dangerous conditions in the camps. "The combination of hazardous forced labor, inadequate food, beatings, totally inadequate medical care and unhygienic living conditions, resulted in prisoners falling ill, and a large number died in custody or soon after release," it adds.
Amnesty made even gloomier forecasts for the human rights situation in the North after the transfer of power to new leader Kim Jong-un. "In apparent preparation for a succession of power, unconfirmed reports suggested that, in January, the State Security Agency detained over 200 officials, some of whom were feared executed, while others were sent to political prison camps," the report says.
"Thousands were imprisoned in at least 180 other detention facilities. Most were imprisoned without trial or following grossly unfair trials and on the basis of forced confessions."
According to the report, 30 officials who had led or participated in dialogue with South Korea were either executed or killed in masked traffic accidents, and 37 officials were executed between 2007 and 2010 on economy-related charges.