Constitutional Provisions

The 1972 Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) was last amended in 2016. The rights to life and to freedom from inhumane treatment are not guaranteed in North Korea. According to Article 63 of the Constitution:

In the DPRK the rights and duties of citizens are based on the collectivist principle, “One for all and all for one.”

Article 67 guarantees to citizens freedom of assembly, demonstration, and association.

The Constitution does not address use of force by the police or other law enforcement agency.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) Not party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints N/A
CAT Optional Protocol 1 N/A
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court     Not party

Regional Treaties

There is no regional Asian human rights treaty to which North Korea could become party.

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

There is no specific legislation concerning police use of force in North Korea. Article 281 of the Criminal Code (as amended in 2009), however, which concerns homicide beyond justifiable self-defence, provides as follows:

A person who kills another by an act that goes beyond a measure of justifiable self-defence or beyond the measure necessary for the performance of his or her duty or responsibility shall be punished by reform through labour for less than three years.

Police Oversight

There is no independent civilian police oversight body in North Korea and impunity for human rights violations is the norm.



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea documented in great detail the wide-ranging array of crimes against humanity being committed in North Korea. The report, which was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in 2014, stated that: 

The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.

The Commission of Inquiry found grave human rights violations in North Korea, including violations of the right to life; arbitrary detention, torture, and execution. The Commission also found crimes against humanity that entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons, and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation. 


There is no regional human rights court with jurisdiction to review police use of force in North Korea.


1972 Constitution of North Korea (as amended) (English translation)

Criminal Law of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (2009)

Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (2014)