The U.S. government has, for the first time, officially pinned North Korea’s “serious human-rights abuses” upon Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un personally, as well as upon 14 high-ranking officials in the country’s military, security and party agencies.
In a report released 6 July in Washington, D.C., the State Department laid at Kim’s feet the responsibility for “serious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, forced labor, and torture.”
“The government also … restricts the exercise of freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association, religion or belief, and movement,” the report said.
The report is required under a 2016 law that orders the secretary of state to identify “each person the Secretary determines to be responsible for serious human rights abuses or censorship in North Korea.” As a result, Kim and the other 14 men named in the report have been placed on the US. Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list. The designation makes the men “radioactive to major financial institutions and companies while freezing any assets they may already have in U.S banks,” Reuters reported.
North Korea is No. 1 on the World Watch List of countries where life as a Christian is most difficult and dangerous, according to the list’s creator, Open Doors, a charity that supports Christians who live under pressure because of their faith. According to the list, “Christians face arrest, torture, imprisonment and death for daring to believe there is a higher authority than the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un.”