No religious freedom in N Korea: US report

No religious freedom in N Korea: US report
PHOTO: Reuters

The freedom of religion does not exist in practice in North Korea, an annual US government report said Wednesday, noting the repressive regime continues to harshly handle religious people through executions, torture, beatings and arrests.

The State Department's 2014 International Religious Freedom Report pointed out that for international audiences, the North has maintained an appearance of tolerance for religions, but suppressed all of the unapproved religious activities.

"The constitution guarantees freedom of religion for its citizens and the country is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, religious freedom does not exist in practice," the report reads.

The report also touched on the issue of political prisoners, saying that an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners -- some of them incarcerated for religious reasons -- are believed to be held in political camps.

Since 2001, the US government has designated the North as a "country of particular concern" in accordance with the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. Also on the CPC list are Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

During a press conference, David N. Saperstein, US ambassador-at-large, said the North is "one of the worst violators of human rights in the entire world."

"The United States Government is always working, day in and day out, to ensure that its citizens who are imprisoned unjustly without due process and for the exercise of fundamental internationally protected rights are allowed to go free, and/or encounter a judicial system that does provide due process and fairness," he said.

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