November 09, 2018 13:26
A North Korean laborer who worked in a shipyard in Poland for several years accuses a Dutch shipbuilding company of exploitation in "slave-like conditions."
Dutch law firm Prakken d'Oliveira said Thursday that it filed a complaint on behalf of the laborer against the shipbuilder, whose name was not revealed, taking advantage of a Dutch law that makes profiting from exploitation a criminal offense even if the company was not the victim's direct employer.
Reuters reported that this is the first time ever that a North Korean laborer has taken legal action in a third country. To protect the laborer, the law firm did not reveal his identity.
The laborer claims that he was forced to work 12 hours a day in slave-like conditions for Polish shipyard Crist SA, but the Dutch shipbuilder, despite knowing the situation, continued to place orders with the shipyard.
The laborer is believed to have escaped and sought asylum.
Poland has been a European hub for North Korean labor exports. European human rights organizations have exposed the dire working and living conditions of North Korean workers in Poland on multiple occasions, but this is the first time legal action has been taken, and activists hope the landmark lawsuit will create momentum to turn the international spotlight on the gross human rights violations suffered by North Korean laborers abroad.
The UN estimates that there are 50,000 to 60,000 North Korean laborers around the world who earn hard currency for the regime.
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