UN Working Group Declares Arbitrary Shin Detention

The ‘UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’ has concluded that the ‘Daughter of Tongyeong’ Shin Suk Ja and her daughters Hye Won and Gyu Won are being arbitrarily detained by the North Korean authorities, in spite of Pyongyang’s claims to the contrary.

The secretariat of the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK), which has been campaigning to rescue the so-called ‘Daughter of Tongyeong’ for the past year, revealed the news at a press conference in Seoul this morning, saying that they have received official confirmation from the UN on the decision of the working group.

Saenuri Party lawmaker and ICNK secretariat official Ha Tae Kyung revealed to reporters at the press conference, “We have received a reply; it says that Ms. Shin Suk Ja has been in enforced detention since 1987 and continues to be so.”

“The working group says that the detention is in violation of articles 8, 9 , 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Ha went on. “The working group has requested that the North Korean government take the necessary measures to solve the problem, meaning release and reparations.”

ICNK submitted the case of Shin and her release to the UN last November, and the Working Group then sent a request for information to the North Korean authorities on March 1st.

The UN decision comes in spite of the North Korean response to that request at the beginning of this month, in which it asserted that Shin died some years ago of hepatitis and denied that the case represents arbitrary detention. It also alleged that Shin’s two daughters have no interest in meeting their father, whom Pyongyang says regard him as having betrayed them.

On the basis of the decision by the UN, ICNK is now planning to urge the North to send the remains of Shin Suk Ja to her husband Dr. Oh Kil Nam and permit the reunion of her daughters with their father in a third country, followed by their repatriation.

However, while the campaign to save Shin and particularly her daughters will be accelerated by the decision of the UN Working Group, it is thought to be unlikely that North Korea will respond to the international community on the issue at this point.