Rights experts stress UN resolution’s passage

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Rights experts stress UN resolution’s passage

Key North Korean human rights envoys from the United Nations and Washington stressed the significance yesterday at an international forum in Seoul of passing a UN resolution that would tackle human rights atrocities in Pyongyang.

Marzuki Darusman, the UN special rapporteur on North Korea, emphasized that there should be enough evidence to hold North Korean leader Kim Jong-un accountable for human rights atrocities committed by the regime, in accordance with a report by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the human rights situation in North Korea.

He spoke at the 4th Chaillot Human Rights Forum, hosted by the Korea Institute for National Unification, along with other experts on the issue, including Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues. At the forum, held in the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul, those gathered reaffirmed the need to refer North Korea’s leadership to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Darusman, the former prosecutor general of Indonesia, urged the international community to “seize this unique opportunity and momentum” to help make a difference in the life of the North Korean people and hold accountable those responsible for serious violations of human rights there.”

King also supported the passing of the resolution at the UN General Assembly. The draft resolution is expected to pass its Third Committee on social and humanitarian affairs next week and will be put to vote in the General Assembly next month.

Afterward, the 15-member Security Council would put it to a vote. China, one of five permanent members, is likely to exercise its veto power on the issue.

The resolution is based on the findings of a report released in February by the COI on North Korea’s dire human rights situation that detailed systematic human rights abuses - rape, torture and arbitrary detention by the regime - taking place in the country.

It recommends that North Korean leaders be made to answer for their atrocities in front of the International Criminal Court.

On the likelihood that North Korea’s senior leaders would be referred to the ICC, Darusman said it may be “difficult” should China exercise its right to veto the UN resolution. However, Beijing seems to be keeping its silence for now, he said.

King speculated that Pyongyang may have released Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae and the two other American detainees in an effort to make certain that the passage of the resolution was blocked.

“We did not offer deals on anything else to get the release of these American citizens. We don’t do that,” he added.

The gathering, focused on the theme “North Korean Human Rights and Happiness for a Unified Korea,” also tackled other issues, including ways to improve health care programs for children and mothers under the regime.

BY SARAH KIM, YOO SEONG-WOON [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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