The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific (COLAP) conducted a joint fact-finding mission in Seoul and Pyongyang in August and September 2019, as an intervention into the debate about the waitress case: namely, whether the 12 women were voluntary defectors or whether they were abducted by South Korean authorities.

The National Human Rights Committee in South Korea released its investigative report prior to the release of the final report of the IADL/COLAP fact-finding mission in late September 2019. However, the NHRC report did not recognize the abduction or state involvement in the case.

To the contrary, the IADL/COLAP fact-finding mission final report recognized state involvement and determined that the 12 waitresses were abducted by the National Intelligence Service (NIS). The South Korean government did not mention this at all.

Minbyun lawyers in South Korea have submitted the IADL/COLAP report to the UN Human Rights Committee on civil and political rights. This activity will continue, but the repatriation of 12 waitresses to the DPRK has not been realized.

IADL will continue this struggle until the waitress cases is resolved, especially at the UN Human Rights Council and in treaty bodies, in cooperation with Minbyun lawyers, the Korean Democratic Lawyers Association and COLAP.

10 November 2019

Brussels, Belgium