EU, Japan rebuke Kim Jong-un for rights violations

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EU, Japan rebuke Kim Jong-un for rights violations

A draft resolution submitted to a committee of the UN General Assembly on Thursday condemning the human rights violations of North Korea explicitly pointed to the regime’s leadership for the first time in 12 years, calling again for a referral of the human rights violations of North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In condemning the human rights violation of the regime - including torture, rape, public execution, the use of political prison camps and forced labor - the resolution explicitly pointed out for the first time the human rights violations of the “institutions under the effective control of [the North’s] leadership,” in addition to the dismal working conditions of its overseas workers “that reportedly amount to forced labor.”

“While resolutions previously mentioned the Commission of Inquiry reports, it never mentioned the word ‘leadership’ before until the draft resolution this year,” said an official of Korea’s Foreign Ministry.

The draft resolution to the UN General Assembly’s third committee, co-authored by the European Union and Japan, also mentioned for the first time the financing of weapons of mass destruction development in the country.

The resolution expressed “grave concern about the impact of diverting resources to advance nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programs” on the human rights situation in North Korea.

There was less emphasis on inter-Korean relations, unlike in resolutions in the past.

“A clause in the resolution last year mentioned how inter-Korean dialogues can assist in improving the human rights situation in the North,” the official said. “But this year there was no mention of the word ‘inter-Korean’ in the clause.”

He added, “This is perhaps an indication that an inter-Korean dialogue is not appropriate, or realistic, at the moment in the international community.”

The UN General Assembly has adopted resolutions condemning the abysmal state of human rights in North Korea every year since 2005.

The resolutions from 2014 recommended the UN Security Council refer the situation in North Korea to the ICC in The Hague for crimes against humanity.

While the Security Council did not follow through on this action in 2014, it placed the North Korean human rights issue on its agenda for the first time in 2015. The resolution called for targeted sanctions on those responsible for such crimes.

“The official proposal of the bill will take place on Monday or Tuesday,” said the ministry official. “The voting may take place in mid-November.”

If the committee, where all UN members participate, passes the resolution, its adoption by the General Assembly becomes more likely.

“South Korean officials will continue to cooperate and speak with relevant stakeholders to help pass the resolution,” said the official.

The draft resolution last year condemning the human rights violations of North Korea was co-sponsored by more than 50 countries and received 112 votes in favor and 19 votes against. The nay votes included China and Russia.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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