DPRK’s envoy to the UN denies rights violations

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DPRK’s envoy to the UN denies rights violations

GENEVA - North Koreans are living a “beautiful dream,” a North Korean ambassador to the United Nations claimed Tuesday, refuting the recent testimony of the nation’s defectors who claimed the regime has committed numerous atrocities.

In his first appearance at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) after North Korea boycotted the UNHRC sessions this month, So Se-pyong, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, asserted North Koreans nationwide are in clover.

Addressing the international community’s recrimination over the regime’s exploitation of overseas workers and the brutal punishment defectors face, So called the charges “fabrications” and hit back with a tu quoque argument citing human rights abuses in South Korea and the United States. Ri Su-yong, the North Korean foreign minister who’d announced the UNHRC boycott, said singling out North Korea’s record is a political tactic.

At a parallel event Tuesday, Marzuki Darusman, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, urged UN members to take action, expressing regret that the United Nations has yet to meaningfully improve North Korean human rights despite two years having passed since the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) report was published in 2014.

Darusman has repeatedly called for the prosecution of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and other top officials, on charges of crimes against humanity, asking the UNHRC to appoint experts to investigate the legal aspects of criminal accountability.

South Korean government officials and human rights activists also urged the United Nations to take action against the regime’s criminal abuse of its people.

South Korean lawyer Kim Tae-hoon, chairman of the Special Committee on North Korean Human Rights, pointed out at the event that the United Nations didn’t ban North Korean overseas workers dispatched by the regime in the latest UN Security Council’s sanctions against North Korea, which was unanimously adopted to punish the North’s recent nuclear and long-range missile tests. Kim believes member countries of World Trade Organization and International Labor Office should impose bans on products made by North Korean forced labor.

South Korean activists protested before the UN headquarters on Tuesday, urging the United Nations to help bereaved Korean families separated by the Korean War visit North Korea and reunite with loved ones.

BY LEE YOUNG-JONG [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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