US to Back NKorea Human Rights Probe

Activists from an anti-North Korea civic group smash a hammer down at a mock North Korean missile during a rally against North Korea’s nuclear test near the US embassy in central Seoul on Feb. 13, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

WASHINGTON — The US will support an international push at next month’s UN Human Rights Council to initiate an inquiry into conditions in North Korea, US officials said Wednesday.

The world body’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, called last month for the creation of an international inquiry into “serious crimes” in North Korea that would be authorized by the UN but performed by independent experts. She called it one of the worst but least reported human rights situations in the world.

Japan has signaled support for some kind of inquiry for consideration by the Geneva-based council, and EU diplomats have been discussing such a move.

US officials, speaking anonymously because the American position has not been announced, said Washington was favorably disposed toward some kind of inquiry but is waiting for nations to reach a consensus on details before formally declaring its support.

Activists complain that the authoritarian state’s human rights record receives much less international attention than its nuclear and missile programs that are causing growing concern, particularly in the Asia-Pacific and the US Washington is urging the UN Security Council to tighten sanctions on North Korea after it conducted Tuesday its third nuclear test in defiance of previous UN resolutions.

The Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly already have condemned North Korea’s human rights record, but Pillay said stronger action was needed.

She said as many as 200,000 people were being held in North Korean political prison camps rife with torture, rape and slave labor, and that some of the abuses may amount to crimes against humanity.

North Korea denounced a recent UN report on human rights in the country that was conducted by a former attorney general of Indonesia as politically motivated and doing the bidding of the US, Japan and the EU.

“The rights issues should be mentioned every time North Korea is discussed,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. “The decades of abuses and famine entail human suffering and risk at levels that are on par with the risk and suffering posed by the nuclear program.

One Response to US to Back NKorea Human Rights Probe

  1. The international community must act immediately to save lives in N Korea. If the N Korea is not co-operative, it must be kicked out of the UN. Because it has insulted the UN’s decisions and charters. There are some evidences that human flesh is consumed there. The Koreans are not this bad in nature but the uselessness and selfishness of a few families cause this famine and hunger to the innocent people. The world community must stand together to save innocent victims of Kim Jong-un’s rule. China has been part of the ongoing problems there.

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