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UN Investigator Urges Prosecution of North Korean Leaders

  • Lisa Schlein

Undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Feb. 21, 2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting maneuvers for attack and defense between large combined units of the Korean People's Army (KPA).

Undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Feb. 21, 2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting maneuvers for attack and defense between large combined units of the Korean People's Army (KPA).

North Korea’s leaders, including Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, must be held accountable for crimes against humanity committed against their people, a U.N. special investigator said in a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Over the past six years, U.N. Special Investigator Marzuki Darusman has submitted a succession of hard-hitting reports to the Council detailing a wide range of horrendous human rights violations in North Korea.

The human rights expert said North Korea has flaunted all requests made by the Human Rights Council to alleviate the suffering of its people, and nothing appears to have changed at all.

Rights infractions

Darusman said the government maintains strict control over every aspect of its citizens’ lives, in the denial of their rights.

In addition, he blamed North Korea for heightening tensions in northeast Asia.

He said the government’s recent tests of a supposed hydrogen bomb and a long-range missile "fly in the face" of international prohibitions.

"The denial of human rights to its citizens internally and this aggressive behavior externally are basically two sides of the same coin," Darusman said.

"The country is pouring a large amount of resources into developing weapons of mass destruction, while large parts of its population continue to suffer from food insecurity, and while the government sends systematically recruited workers abroad to earn foreign exchange for the state, while working under severe labor conditions," he added.

Darusman describes the abuse to which North Korea’s people are subjected, including the incarceration of whole families in political prison camps. He said he has received reports of torture and other violations against people detained in prisons.

Religion, work conditions

Religious followers face relentless persecution, and people suffer from severe food shortages and are forced to work in slave-like conditions, Darusman added.

He said people in senior leadership positions are criminally responsible for the crimes committed by people under their authority.

“I would like to reiterate my appeal to the international community to move forward to ensure accountability of the senior leadership of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including that of Mr. Kim Jong Un," Darusman said.

North Korea boycotted the session, foregoing its right of reply as a concerned State.

Earlier this month, North Korea accused the Human Rights Council of double standards. Pyongyang vowed never to take part in an examination of its record or be bound by any resolutions adopted by the U.N. body.

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