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UN adopts resolution on the North

Grave concerns about systematic human rights abuses

Mar 28,2009
The United Nations has adopted a resolution, co-sponsored by South Korea, denouncing human rights abuses in North Korea. The UN’s human rights council has reappointed an investigator on the North to continue reporting on abuses there for another year.

The UN Commission on Human Rights yesterday adopted the European Union-led resolution on a 26-6 vote with 15 abstentions at a meeting at the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland.

The resolution expressed concern at the “grave, widespread and systematic human rights abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea’s formal name], in particular the use of torture and labor camps against political prisoners and repatriated DPRK citizens.”

China and Russia were among those casting opposing votes.

Last March, South Korea voted for a UN resolution on human rights and last November co-sponsored a resolution that was approved by the UN General Assembly in December. The latter resolution urged the North to “respect fully all human rights and fundamental freedoms” by “immediately putting an end to the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights.”

Under former President Roh Moo-hyun, the South abstained from similar resolutions in 2005 and 2007.

North Korea says the latest UN resolution is “full of distortions and fabrications” and condemned it for pursuing “ill-minded political purposes,” according to various reports.

Meanwhile, the UN council extended the term of Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea, by one year and asked the North to allow him to visit the country.

Muntarbhorn, a Thai jurist, has been reporting on the situation since 2004. He has said North Koreans are subjected to “intolerable suffering” and called its prisons “death traps.”

Earlier this month, the North rejected food aid from the U.S. and asked U.S. aid workers to leave by the end of March, two months ahead of schedule.


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]



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