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News » International

UN to investigate rights violations in N Korea

Resolution alleges 'grave, widespread and systematic' abuses

UN to investigate rights violations in N Korea
North Korean soldiers during war games at an undisclosed location (AFP photo/KCNS via KNS)
Michael MacLachlin International

March 22, 2013

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North Korea faces a UN investigation into its human rights record after the adoption of an historic resolution by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday.

The resolution condemned “grave, widespread and systematic” rights abuses in North Korea, including torture and labor camps for political prisoners.

It also set up a commission to conduct a year-long investigation of numerous alleged abuses, “with a view to ensuring full accountability, in particular where these violations may amount to crimes against humanity.”

Among the abuses alleged are violations of the right to food and the right to life.

The resolution, put forward by Japan and the European Union and adopted by consensus, also draws attention to “abductions of nationals of other states.”

In recent years North Korea has arrested but later released several US citizens including journalists and Christians accused of proselytizing, according to the BBC.

North Korea’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Pyong Se So, insisted the resolution was “full of fabrications” and “a political ploy.”

His country had “one of the best systems in the world for the protection of human rights,” Se So said.

But the resolution was welcomed by rights groups. 

“This long-awaited inquiry will help expose decades of abuse,” said Julie de Rivero, advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “[It] sends a strong message to Pyongyang that the world is watching and its abuses must end.”

The inquiry was the result of years of advocacy and campaigning, said Andrew Johnston, advocacy director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which has been in the forefront of the campaign and is a founder member of the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea. 

“We hope the commission will expose the extent of the North Korean government’s human rights violations and provide the first steps towards justice for the North Korean people,” Johnston said.

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