A human rights group in Seoul released a report on Wednesday titled “Mapping Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea“, whose objective is to map locations used for killings and mass graves by the North Korean government.

The group, called the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), used satellite imagery and interviewed hundreds of North Korean defectors in order to painstakingly document suspected locations where human rights abuses occurred at the hands of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) regime.

The intent is to have an accurate record which can be used to hold regime officials accountable for crimes against humanity should the DPRK regime fall. The TJWG says they are taking steps to move forward on numerous international condemnations and declarations to hold human rights abusers in the DPRK responsible.

The group cites other governments who conducted atrocities, such as in Yugoslavia and Cambodia, where having accurate records of mass killings could have assisted in achieving justice in the aftermath of their regimes’ collapse.

TJWG sees the Mapping Project as having the potential to contribute selected data to this repository as part of the collective effort to support the push for accountability, as well as for future efforts to institute a process of transitional justice following a change in the political conditions in North Korea.”

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The report identifies 290 ‘killing sites’ spread across North Korea, with the majority being in the furthest northern province. The primary method of execution was shooting, with the greatest number of public executions occurring in the late 90’s and early 2000s when food shortages were at their peak.

The group was also interested in hearing the defectors’ opinion on what should be done in response once a ‘regime transition’ occurs in the DPRK. The vast majority of defectors, 94.8%, support prosecution and punishment of human rights violators in court. 79% of North Korean respondents in the survey said they had been exposed to physical violence while in North Korea.

Image courtesy of Google Earth