"--IANS/EFE"
Seoul, June 19 (IANS/EFE) North Korea has considerably reduced the number of political prisoners in the country and shut down one of its labour camps for dissidents, according to a report.

It, however, ruled out an improvement in the human rights situation in the country.

The report, published Thursday by the South Korean media and prepared by Korea Institute for National Unification, stated that it is estimated that there are between 80,000 and 120,000 political prisoners in five prisons in North Korea.

The South Korean think tank, funded by the South Korean government, indicated that this figure suggests a reduction in comparison to earlier calculations that placed the political prisoners in the Communist regime between 150,000 and 200,000.

The report also talks about the closure of a labour camp in Hoeryong in the North Hamgyong province, that brings down the number of these political prison camps for opposition politicians in the country to five.

It is difficult to say that the reduction in the number and size of the prison camps is the result of some change by the North Korean authorities, reads the document that was published by the Yonhap agency.

In this sense, it adds, the most important thing is that the regime has kept these labour camps for political prisoners after Kim Jong-un came to power.

In March, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea placed the number of political prisoners between 80,000 and 120,000, who it said, were subjected to the country's own forms of Nazism, apartheid or practices of the Red Khhmer.

According to a detailed report by this commission, these political prisoners are imprisoned in four large labour camps where they are deprived of food as a form of control and punishment, as well as subjected to forced labour.

--IANS/EFE

ab/dg


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