North Korean authorities have opened up prison camps for Covid flouters, calling them ‘special criminals’ – with some reportedly dying a day after being put there.
The North Korean Workers’ Party has created a new policy which categorises those who break quarantine rules as ‘special criminals’, saying they are guilty of political crimes – despite claims that there has not been one case of the virus in the country.
Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader, has approved the camps, which so far have seen ‘greatly increasing’ numbers of quarantine violators, reports Daily NK.
According to a source, a new prison camp was opened up in Hwachon which will accommodate the new category of criminal.
But it was reported that this new camp ‘isn’t big, and it is managed by the Ministry of Social Security’.
Areas in the South Pyongan Province have been created for the prisoners, known as Camp 17 – located in Kaechon, while Camp 18 is based less than 40km away in Pukchang.
The North Korean source is reported to have said: “The authorities opened the facility in one of the coal mines where there used to be a worksite for the Hwachon Political Prison Camp.”
Another site has also been opened, which is in the Sungho district of Hwachon-dong, North Hwanghae Province.
Camp 26 was closed down in 1991 after it was reported that human rights abuses were regularly taking place at the facility. It was given a new title – the Sungho Disciplinary Labor Centre – and it might be used as a camp for anyone caught breaking quarantine rules.
The North Korean source is reported to have said that these abuses are still taking place within the camp.
They said: “Having opened a new prison, the authorities make an example of newly arrived prisoners by making them run in teams of seven after finishing work in the mine.
“The excuse is to make them reflect on their crimes before the Fatherland.
“If you pass out while running, they make you run more 10 times the amount of time you were on the ground.
“In early December, six of 53 new prisoners died a day after entering the camp from cruel treatment.”
Meanwhile, it was reported three weeks ago that someone was publicly executed after being caught breaking coronavirus rules and crossing the border to China.