North Korean defectors have reportedly accused the country's prisons of inflicting severe brutality and abuse to the inmates including torture, abductions and running prison camps.
A United Nations (UN) three member panel has begun probing witnesses in Seoul to examine the claims accusing the nation of gross human rights violations.
According to the BBC, Shin Dong-hyeok, one of the first witnesses to testify spoke of how he had been forced to watch the execution of his mother and his brother after they had attempted to escape from the camp and the guards even chopped his finger when he dropped a sewing machine.
More than 30 witnesses including North Koreans, who have recently fled the country, are expected to testify in the hearings which will last until Saturday and take place in Seoul and Japan as investigators were refused permission to enter the North.
UN said that the violations are related to the right to food, those associated with prison camps, torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrary detention, discrimination, freedom of expression, the right to life, freedom of movement, and enforced disappearances, including in the form of abductions of nationals of other states.
The panel is due to present its report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014, the report added. (ANI)