The family members of Japanese abduction victims want to take North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to court for what they say are human rights abuses.
The relatives are heading to The Hague next week to ask the International Criminal Court to launch a case against the North Korean leader for failing to provide information on the whereabouts of their loved ones. They will hand over a petition demanding an investigation into the abductions of more than 100 Japanese.
The relatives say Kim Jong Un knows that a number of their family members are alive and that “their freedom is severely restricted,” according to Kyodo News. A majority of their loved ones disappeared in the 1970s.
In 2002, North Korea confirmed that 13 Japanese were taken in the 1970s and 1980s for spy training. Five were later returned to Japan, according to Reuters.
Reports have claimed that North Korea could be responsible for anywhere between 100 to 470 missing Japanese. The National Police Agency suggests that more than 850 people have been abducted by the country, according to The Japan Times.
But getting Kim Jong Un to the International Criminal Court is not an easy feat.
“Arresting Kim Jong Un and bringing him it would be rather difficult, but it’s extremely important to show that there are human rights abuses taking place,” Kazuhiro Araki, who leads a support group for the family members, told The Japan Times.
Teruaki Masumoto is one of eight people travelling to the court to ask what happened to her sister, Rumiko, although North Korean officials have reportedly said her sister died.
But family members are hopeful that their petition will lead to more attention to their cause due to South Korea’s increased communication with North Korea for the Olympics.
“Right now, with the Olympics, South Korea is really making a connection with the North, which we did not expect,” Araki said.
In the past, North Korean officials have said they would launch their own investigation into the missing but the family members are still waiting, according to Reuters.