Sunday, 1 January 2012

JAPAN: Abduction and Deprivation of Freedom for the Purpose of Religious De-Conversion (2011)


Japan Fails to Protect Citizens from Abductions and Confinement for Forced Religious De-Conversion  

"One Cannot State that there is Freedom of Religion in Japan"
HRWF Brussels (31.12.2011) -  Human Rights Without Frontiers International (HRWF Int'l), an independent nongovernmental organization, today released a 62-page report that documents the abduction and confinement of Japanese citizens for the purpose of religious de-conversion, and the failure of Japanese police and judicial authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible for such cases of domestic violence.

"The failure to provide the victims of such kidnappings with equal protection under the law, and the impunity of those responsible, constitute a serious violation of the Japanese people's constitutionally guaranteed rights and the international human rights standards to which Japan is legally bound," stated Willy Fautre, Director of the Brussels-based NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l.

Fautre and Aaron Rhodes, an international human rights advocate who helped organize the report, interviewed numerous victims, who were mainly members of the Unification Church and the Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as journalists, lawyers, and experts. They also met with 10 members of the Japanese Diet to discuss the issue.

The kidnapping and often violent forced detention of Japanese who have joined these religious movements, usually by their own families along with "exit counselors," has occurred for decades but has been ignored by police and judicial authorities despite unequivocal evidence of crimes.

"It is completely unacceptable that all known complaints against parents and exit counselors have been declared ineligible," Aaron Rhodes said.

"In the face of such official negligence and impunity, one cannot state that there is freedom of religion in Japan," he said.

Japan: Abduction and Deprivation of Freedom for the Purpose of Religious De-Conversion is available on-line at (On the homepage in the section "Our Reports").

Link to the full report (62 pages PDF):

For interviews:

Willy Fautre: +32 478 202069 - Email:
Aaron Rhodes: +49 170 323 8314 - Email:

Tuesday, 20 December 2011



Seoul, Tokyo, Bangkok, London, New York, Paris, Brussels (ICNK and HRWF, 19.12.2011) The death of Kim Jong Il on 17 December 2011 represents a unprecedented opportunity for North Korea's new leaders, including Kim Jong-un, to turn a new page on the human rights situation in the country and put an end to widespread and systematic violations which have characterized the regime and brutalized the North Korean people for too long, said the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) today. The North Korean government must cease these violations, end impunity and ensure justice for countless victims.

The leaders of DPRK should immediately put an end to practices such as forced labor, forced abortion of returnees, torture or executions, close all kwan-li-so (political prisoners' camps) and release all political prisoners and abductees, urged ICNK.

"North Korea remains a closed country and access is therefore urgently needed for independent and neutral human rights monitors, in particular the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in North Korea and international humanitarian organizations", said Souhayr Belhassen, president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). The Coalition will continue its campaign for the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity that have characterized North Korea today and in the past.
"The death of Kim Jong-il opens up an opportunity which the international community should seize, to help free the North Korean people from decades of brutal oppression. While there may be a period of uncertainty and instability in the days ahead, the international community should ensure that the severe human rights and humanitarian crisis in North Korea is placed firmly on the agenda alongside security and political concerns," said Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). "Action must be taken to bring an end to the regime's crimes against humanity and the culture of impunity."
The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) includes human rights campaigners from around the world, including Asia, Latin America, North America, and Europe. Survivors of North Korean prison camps, and their groups such as Free NK Gulag, have added their support to the Coalition.

For further information please contact:

Seoul, Ha Tae Keung, Open North Korea & Secretariat to the Coalition (Korean, English): +82-50-5470-7470; or
Tokyo, Kanae Doi, Human Rights Watch (Japanese, English): +81-3-5282-5162; +81-90-2301-4372(mobile); or
Bangkok, Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); or
London, Benedict Rogers, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (English): +44-208-329-0041 or +44-7823-329664; or
New York, David Hawk (English): +1-732-793-3104 (mobile); or
Paris, Arthur Manet, International Federation for Human Rights (French, English): +33 1 43 55 90 19 ; or
Brussels, Willy Fautre, Human Rights Without Frontiers: +3223456145 or
Website :

1.    The full statement summarising the objectives of the ICNK is as follows:

The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea unites the world's major international human rights organizations, campaigners for freedom for North Korea and survivors of the North Korean gulags in a global campaign seeking a full investigation of the regime's crimes against humanity through a United Nations Commission of Inquiry. 

The Coalition aims to bring together all the key organizations and individuals working on North Korean human rights, because we believe that a common, united effort will influence international political and public opinion and send a powerful message to the regime.

The Coalition fully recognizes the need to deploy a wide range of skills and initiatives to bring change to North Korea, and completely respects the individuality of each Coalition member. Coalition members will be free to pursue a variety of approaches, but will unite in a common campaign to seek the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry. 

Coalition members will include organizations and individuals from across the world, including throughout Asia, North America, Latin America and Europe.
2.    Members and supporters of the Coalition are as follows:
  • Advocates International Global Council
  • Amnesty International
  • Asia Justice and Rights
  • Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
  • Asian Human Rights & Humanity Association of Japan
  • Burma Partnership (Thailand)
  • Christian Lawyers Association for Paraguay
  • Christian Solidarity Worldwide
  • Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (USA)
  • Conectas (Brazil)
  • Council for Human Rights in North Korea (Canada)
  • Freedom House (USA)
  • Free NK Gulag (ROK)
  • Free North Korea Radio (ROK)
  • Han Voice (Canada)
  • HH Katacombs (ROK)
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Human Rights Without Frontiers (Belgium)
  • Inter-American Federation of Christian Lawyers
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • COMJAN (Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea)(Japan)
  • Japanese Lawyers Association for Abduction and Other Human Rights Issues in North Korea
  • Jubilee Campaign (USA)
  • Justice for North Korea (ROK)
  • Kontras (Indonesia)
  • Liberty in North Korea - LiNK (USA)
  • Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (Japan)
  • Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (ROK)
  • NK Intellectual Solidarity (ROK)
  • NO FENCE (Japan)
  • North Korea Freedom Coalition
  • Odhikar (Bangladesh)
  • Open North Korea (ROK)
  • People In Need (Czech Republic)
  • PSALT NK (Prayer Service Action Love Truth for North Korea)
  • The Simon Wiesenthal Center (USA)
  • The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea (Japan)
  • Students Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (ROK)
  • Young Defectors' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (ROK)
  • Yuki Akimoto, Burmainfo (Japan)
  • Tomoharu Ebihara
  • David Hawk, Visiting Scholar, Columbia University, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and author of Hidden Gulag
  • Ken Kato, Director, Human Rights in Asia (Japan)
  • Tomoyuki Kawazoe, Representative, Kanagawa Association for The Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea / Member, Reporters Without Borders
  • Suzanne Scholte, Seoul Peace Prize Recipient & Defense Forum Foundation (USA)
  • Dr. Norbert Vollertsen

HRWF in the News about North Korea

NGOs demand official inquiry into North Korea's crimes against humanity

EU urged to help bring North Korea 'back into fold'

EU urged to continue restrictive sanctions against North Korea
MEP calls for renewed talks to resolve Korean conflict

North Koreans talk of baby killings

Don't deport North Korean women
North Korean refugees face forced abortion and infanticide
N. Korea killing prison babies, defectors say
North Korean babies
North Korea engages in forced abortion, infanticide
2008 North Korean Human Rights Campaign
North Korean in Czech jobs: Slave Labor?
Forum focuses on N. Korea's rights abuses
Le cauchemar des prisons nord-coréennes

Wednesday, 9 November 2011



Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l 



The purpose of the present report is to provide a critical assessment of the work of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and to identify some shortfalls in the overall EU system of promotion and protection of EU fundamental rights and values. The work on the report has been guided by the premise that the new fundamental rights dimension of the EU policies, ensuing from the legally binding nature of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as incorporated in the Lisbon Treaty, makes it necessary for the European Union to develop and consolidate a genuine culture of fundamental rights at the level of both EU institutions and EU Member States broadly and when applying and implementing the Union Law.

The importance of a EU fundamental rights culture has been widely acknowledged but it is still in its nascent stages and risks to remain rudimentary, unless a proper institutional architecture is installed to support its development and consolidation. Notwithstanding the existing mechanisms and legal provisions in place, the whole system remains fragmented and reactive. 

In its resolution of 15 December 2010, the European Parliament calls on the EU institutions and Member States to increase coherence among their various bodies responsible for monitoring and implementation of fundamental rights protection and to reinforce a cross-EU monitoring mechanism, as well as an early warning system, similar to the UN Universal Periodic Review. However, the European Union still lacks a comprehensive internal human rights structure to ensure cross-institutional coordination and to allow each institution to build upon other institutions' reports and institutional expertise acquired in the process of their autonomous processes of conducting compatibility checks and impact assessments of legislative proposals and policies.

On its side, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), which has been in existence since 2007 as a "focused observation and assessment agency on Union policies", falls short of filling the gap of a much-needed early warning mechanism and ex ante examination of breaches or risk of breaches of EU fundamental rights. Most importantly, FRA fails short of fulfilling two important criteria underlying the UN Paris Principles governing the work of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), i.e. a broad mandate and full-fledged independence. 

Despite these deficiencies, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights still can carve an important role for itself in the overall EU fundamental rights architecture, if properly resourced, mandated and politically supported. In this respect, the objective of this report is to raise critical questions at a period when the Agency is coming to the end of its first five-year Multiannual Framework (MAF) and starts planning for its second five-year cycle of existence. This should be seen as a critical juncture of the institutional learning process of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. It is therefore an opportune time to assess the Agency's position and role within the EU fundamental rights architecture as well as its added value and ability to mobilise resources and expertise to fulfil its mandate within the context of the prescribed broad-based participatory process of consultations within the EU and its Member States.

Report drafted by Nadja Milanova
Brussels, 7 November 2011


By Dr Nadja Milanova
See the full-report (72 pages) at 
(Homepage/ Our Reports/ 2011) 

         Executive summary                                                                                                                                       
         Chapter I: EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) : Genesis and overview                        
Fundamental human rights policy in the EU: New architecture                                   
          Monitoring of fundamental rights                                                                                             
          The genesis of FRA: Inherent asymmetries                                                                       
          The creation of FRA

Chapter II: EU Agency for Fundamental Rights: Institutional model                                        

     FRA as a specialized EU Agency                                                                                             

     FRA and the Paris Principles                                                                                                    
     Scope of FRA's mandate                                                                                                          
     FRA's independence                                                                                                                 
     FRA and NHRIs in EU Member States 

Chapter III: EU Agency for Fundamental Rights: Organisational structure
     Overall control of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights                                             
     Relations with EU institutions and Member States                                                          
     The role of civil society in the work of FRA                                                                          

Chapter IV: EU fundamental rights culture: An Illusion or a reality?                           
      The case of Hungary
                      Monitoring of the EU Member States' compliance with fundamental rights        
      Timeline of Hungary's adoption of new Media Law and reaction to it                
      Timeline of Hungary's adoption of new Constitution and reaction to it                 
     Timeline of Hungary's adoption of new Religion Law and reaction to it
            List of relevant documents                                                                                                       
 The Paris Principles relating to the status of national institutions                         
   Members of FRA's Management Board                                                                          
   Members of FRA's Scientific Committee                                                                        
      FRA's National Liaison Officers                                                                                            

Editor-in-Chief: Willy Fautre Website: