UN rights body votes to investigate Pyongyang

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UN rights body votes to investigate Pyongyang

GENEVA - The United Nations’ top human rights body unanimously approved Thursday a formal probe into North Korea for possible crimes against humanity.

The 47-nation UN Human Rights Council signed off on the resolution backed by the U.S., Japan and the European Union that authorizes an investigation into what UN officials describe as suspected widespread and systematic violations of human rights in North Korea.

Japan’s ambassador, Takashi Okada, denounced the abduction of foreign nationals and other disappearances in North Korea, and said the aim of the investigation is to “guide the international community in addressing this situation from an independent and impartial stand point.”

The vote follows the recommendations of UN special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman, who told the Geneva-based council in a report last month that the secretive Asian nation displays nine patterns of human rights violations. Darusman said the “grave, widespread and systematic violations of human rights” include having prison camps, the enforced disappearances of citizens and using food to control people.

It paves the way for the creation of a “Commission of Inquiry” for one year with three members and calls on Pyongyang to cooperate with that team of independent experts, which will include Darusman.

However, North Korea’s UN Ambassador in Geneva, So Se-pyong, fiercely denounced the move, calling the resolution “no more than an instrument that serves the political purposes of the hostile forces in their attempt to discredit the image of the DPRK and to change the socialist system chosen and developed by our people.” DPRK stands for the official name of North Korea.

The resolution itself was “political invectives with serious distortions, fabrications and accusations about the human rights situation of the DPRK,” he added. “As we have stated time and again, those human rights abuses have totally nothing to do with the DPRK.”

In 22 previous reports over the past nine years and 16 resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly, the world body of 193 nations has again and again condemned North Korea’s human rights record.

Darusman has told the UN that little has changed under the country’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, who succeeded his father more than a year ago, and who has made it his top priority to strengthen the military while about 16 million of North Korea’s 25 million people suffer from hunger and malnutrition.

AP

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