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Countries slam Pyongyang on human rights issue

Dec 09,2009
GENEVA - North Korea on Monday faced a barrage of demands from western countries to open up to international organizations and independent monitors to improve its human rights situation.

During a hearing at the UN Human Rights Council, France, Australia and Britain called on Pyongyang to work with UN organizations and aid agencies to help feed its population and provide essential medical aid.

But North Korea’s representative dismissed many of the allegations made against his country as “fabricated”.

The United States was among others that asked North Korea to grant access for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and allow an independent assessment of the situation in the isolated country. “The lack of remedies or transparent accountability in dealing with allegations of abuse makes it difficult for foreign governments to accurately assess the human rights situation in the DPRK,” said Robert King, the US special envoy for North Korea human rights issues.

The slew of recommendations were made during the 47 member council’s Universal Periodic Review - a study of its human rights record which all 192 member states of the UN must submit to every four years.

During the session on North Korea, countries also raised concerns about “serious human rights violations.” These included reports of child labor, executions, the detention of political prisoners and torture.

“We are concerned by the failure of the DPRK government to meet [the people’s] basic needs,” said an Australian diplomat. Pyongyang “needs to allow international agencies to do their work,” the diplomat added.

Japan and South Korea also pressed North Korea about the fate of some of their citizens they said had been abducted by Pyongyang.

In response, North Korean ambassador Ri Tcheul accused countries of repeating “fabricated” information.

“Personally I think some distinguished representatives are just repeating or echoing information fabricated and spread by others as if they have seen or witnessed it themselves,” he said.

Members of the North Korean delegation insisted that “the issue of serious malnutrition is a thing of the past,” and that “the issue of abduction does not exist.” They also bristled at accounts of human rights violations in North Korea.


AFP



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