North Korea remains among the world’s most repressive countries. Kim Jong Un’s government sharply curtails freedom of expression, religion, and conscience, peaceful assembly, and association. It prohibits political opposition, independent media, NGOs, and trade unions. A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry found that the government committed violations amounting to crimes against humanity, including extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, rape, and forced abortions. North Korea operates secret prison camps where presumed government opponents face torture, forced labor, and starvation. 

In 2020, the government invoked Covid-19 to put in place extreme and unnecessary measures that further isolated the country, blocking information into and out the country, closing its border with China, and harshly controlling food and product distribution. 

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