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UN rights chief "moved to tears" by N. Korean abuses

Inquiry witnesses describe torture, starvation and executions

<p>Picture: BBC News/AFP</p>

Picture: BBC News/AFP

  • BBC News
  • International
  • October 31, 2013
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The chief of a UN inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea says he was "moved to tears" by testimonies of "gross human rights violations".

Michael Kirby, a retired judge, said the inquiry had "copious evidence" of rights abuses in North Korea.

During the inquiry's hearings, eyewitnesses described systematic torture, starvation and executions.

North Korea describes the inquiry as "a political plot" and has not given investigators access to the country.

However, the inquiry said that it was not biased against Pyongyang and that it had consistently asked North Korean representatives to take part in public hearings and question witnesses.

The inquiry is the UN's first-ever human rights investigation into North Korea.

The UN panel interviewed witnesses in South Korea, Japan and the UK, and is conducting hearings in the US on Wednesday and Thursday. It will submit a final report to the UN in March 2014.

"Some of the testimony has been extremely distressing," Mr Kirby said.

"I am a judge of 35 years experience and I have seen in that time a lot of melancholy court cases which somewhat harden one's heart."

"But even in my own case, there have been a number of testimonies which have moved me to tears," he said.

Some of the atrocities reported included a woman forced to drown her own baby; children imprisoned from birth and starved; and families tortured for watching a foreign soap opera.

Full Story: North Korea: UN human rights inquiry 'moved to tears' 

Source: BBC News

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