The European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (EAHRNK) has issued a report, The Will of the State: North Korean Forced Labour, downloadable as a pdf document here. The report lists 18 countries which use North Korean forced labour - in effect slave labour - including two, Malta and Poland, within the EU. From the Telegraph:
While most of the 50,000 North Koreans on such schemes are currently working in Asian and Middle Eastern countries - some 1,800 are believed to be helping Qatar in its preparations for the 2022 World Cup - up to 1,000 may be working in the EU, the report's authors said.
Among them is a group working in Malta, which has issued 93 visas to North Korean citizens since March 2013, according to Michael Glendinning, the director of the EAHRNK. Most are understood to work for a Chinese-owned firm based in the Maltese capital, Valletta.
Malta historically had a close relationship with North Korea after Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il, studied English in the former British colony in the early 1970s.
A larger number of around 800 North Koreans are also believed to be working in Poland, where in recent years they are known to have been employed in shipyards and orchards.
The EAHRNK, which works with members of the North Korean diaspora around the world, said both countries' governments should investigate.
"The European Union has taken an active lead in pushing for greater international accountability and justice for North Korean human rights - but now it must look to its own shores," said James Burt, the EAHRNK's research and policy officer.
"Forced labour generates hundreds of millions of euros for the North Korean leadership each year and this revenue is, most likely, invested in luxury goods, weapons production, and the maintenance of the most repressive regime on earth."
He added: “North Korean labourers are often the cheapest source of labour and are often exposed to risks without any recourse to local health and safety or justice mechanisms. Workers are rarely provided with individual contracts, passports are confiscated, and the bulk of wages are paid in foreign currencies and transferred directly to the DPRK.”
Joshua Stanton, at One Free Korea, draws attention to the section of the report on slave labour within the North Korean prison camp system - including witness accounts of rampant sexual violence. For instance:
“From China, when we were being repatriated back to North Korea, the guards from the Ministry of National Security stripped women naked to conduct examinations. They checked their vaginas to make sure there was no money hidden. If there were attractive women or girls, they were quietly taken away by the guards and sexually abused. These girls were unable to speak about what happened, because if they did they would be beaten further” [Park XX, 45, North Hamgyeong Province]
“Younger and more attractive girls are often sexually abused. The guards take them out to the hall [of the detention facility] and sexually molest them. Other guards who are passing by just pretend not to see anything. They do not report what they see to their superiors” [Kim XX, 49, Pyongyang]
Stanton calls out Gloria Steinem and the recent WomenCrossDMZ charade:
I cannot, for the life of me, see how anyone can go to Pyongyang, take part in staged propaganda theater, remain silent about the worst abuses of women imaginable, and dare call herself a women’s rights activist.
From a UK perspective, I cannot, for the life of me, see how anyone can go to Pyongyang, receive an official welcome, bring gifts for Kim Jong-un, and claim to represent Labour - supposedly a progressive party. And not just represent, but sit on the Labour Front Bench in the Lords.