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18 June 2014

The Hogan Lovells legal opinion, which includes a foreword by human rights law heavyweight Geoffrey Robertson QC, will be presented today at a congressional hearing before the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The opinion was written by a team of Hogan Lovells lawyers, headed by Paul Dacam, in response to a report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (the "Commission"), which was published earlier this year. That report considered the human rights situation in the country, with particular emphasis on new witness testimony, and found, among other things, that "a number of long-standing and on-going patterns of systematic and widespread violations, which were documented by the Commission, meet the high threshold required for proof of crimes against humanity in international law".

The Hogan Lovells opinion, which was compiled for Human Liberty, a non-profit organisation that is a client of the firm, assesses the Commission's methodology and legal findings.  In addition, the Hogan Lovells opinion considers the possibility that the current situation in North Korea satisfies the legal definition of genocide, particularly in respect of the regime's targeting of civilians classified as "hostile", persons practising Christianity, and children of Chinese descent. The possible avenues for accountability, including a potential reference to the International Criminal Court, as well as an appropriately targeted approach to international sanctions, are also addressed.

Mr Lee Jung-hoon, South Korea’s ambassador for human rights and Human Liberty's founder, and North Korean prison camp escapee Shin Dong-hyuk, will appear at today's Congressional hearing, which will be streamed live at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hclive21.

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