UN investigation puts North Korea’s human rights record in the spotlight

The United Nations recently completed an investigation of human rights in North Korea. In the past, the country has been infamous for violation of its citizens’ rights, in the forms of murder, torture, slavery, starvation, sexual violence, and so on. Marzuki Darusman, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, submitted to the General Assembly that certain situations in North Korea should be reported to International Criminal Court. Some countries, such as those in the European Union, and Japan, came up with similar resolutions, so that the UN can find a path forward.

North Korean officials and diplomats have attempted to mitigate negative images of the country and had a number of conversations with diplomats from other countries. North Korea met with Japan and South Korea, insisting that South Korea is not providing a satisfying condition for a better relationship. The DPRK also suggested that it is willing to restart discussion of nuclear weapons with the United States and release a captured American citizen (two still remain in the country). It also extended offers to talk about human rights with the EU.

The UN panel concluded that North Korea is a state which desires to control every aspect of its citizens’ lives.

Darusman said, “I welcome these signs of increased engagement by North Korea with the Human Rights Council and international community, and I hope they will bear fruit, but these must be premised on a more fundamental acknowledgement of the scale of the problems and must not divert from efforts to ensure the accountability of those responsible.”

Although North Korea is defending its record, the UN Commission of Inquiry reported that the government committed many crimes against human rights and recommended the prosecution of the leaders at the ICC. The UN panel concluded that North Korea is a state which desires to control every aspect of its citizens’ lives.

However, North Korean UN ambassador Jang Il Hun argued, “We totally and categorically reject the contents of the report. No such violations exist in my country, and in no way can they exist.” Moreover, China, a permanent member of the Security Council with a veto power and a major ally of North Korea, indicated that it would likely disallow the referral when the council called the leaders of North Korea to the ICC.

Crimes against human rights in the country are severely criticized by the international community. Victor Cha, a former director for Asian Affairs at the White House, said he sees a “steady drumbeat of anger in the international community at North Korea’s human rights abuses.”

Meanwhile, the United States military questioned North Korea’s actions. General Curtis Scaparrotti, combined forces commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, suggested, “They’ve reached out to other countries, that has been a bit of a change. Right underneath that, at the same time, they continue to pace their development of missile systems, their nuclear systems, [and] other asymmetric means and [are] working hard at that.”

Source: cnn.com