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UN Urged to Set Up Panel to Probe North Korea Abuses

The United Nations Human Rights Council should create an international commission of inquiry to probe abuses recorded in North Korea since 2004, said UN investigator Marzuki Darusman.

Darusman said he documented nine “widespread and systematic patterns of violations” of human rights by the North Korean government. These include violations of the right to food, torture, arbitrary detention and “extensive” violations of freedom of expression, he told the council in Geneva today.

“For several decades, egregious human-rights abuses in DPRK have been extensively documented by various actors, including the United Nations entities,” said Darusman, an Indonesian who’s the special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, which is known officially as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

His recommendation to set up the commission will probably be taken up in a resolution sponsored by Japan and the European Union that the council will debate later this month. The UN human-rights chief, Navi Pillay, and groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch back the proposal, which is based on concerns about North Korean policies that prompted both the 47-member council and the UN General Assembly to pass resolutions last year condemning the country.

‘Collective Punishment’

“Hundreds of thousands of people -- including children -- are held in political prison camps and other detention facilities in North Korea, where they are subject to human- rights violations, such as forced hard labor, denying food as punishment, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” Amnesty said on its website. “Many of those held in political prison camps have not committed any crime but are related to those deemed unfriendly to the regime and detained as a form of collective punishment.”

Darusman said an inquiry could produce a more complete picture, quantify and qualify the violations in terms of international law, attribute responsibility and suggest effective courses of international action.

North Korea’s representative to the council, Kim Song, called the resolution “nothing more than an instrument, a political plot” that is designed to create “an atmosphere of international pressure under the pretext of human-rights protection.”

“It has no relevance to the promotion and protection of genuine human rights,” he told the council. “We make it clear once again that human-rights violations mentioned in the report do not exist in my country. We neither recognize nor accept the resolution on the DPRK or the special rapporteur.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer M. Freedman in Geneva at jfreedman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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