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UN Investigators Call for Action Against N. Korea Abuses

  • Lisa Schlein

Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea holds a copy of his report during a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva on February 17, 2014.

Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea holds a copy of his report during a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva on February 17, 2014.

United Nations investigators are challenging the international community to take immediate and urgent action to stop, what they call, North Korea’s unspeakable atrocities against its population.

In an impassioned plea before the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, Inquiry Commission Chairman Michael Kirby criticized the international community for indifference in the face of horrendous, but credible accounts of suffering endured by the people of North Korea.

He accused North Korea of unspeakable atrocities he compared to the terror of the Nazis. He said the world can no longer remain oblivious and fail to act against the monstrous crimes being committed with impunity by Pyongyang.

“The gravity, scale, duration and nature of the unspeakable atrocities committed in the country reveal a totalitarian state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world," Kirby said. "These are the ongoing crimes against humanity happening in the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], which our generation must tackle urgently and collectively. The rest of the world has ignored the evidence for too long. Now there is no excuse, because now we all know.”

As in the past, Pyongyang refused to cooperate with the three member U.N. Commission, forcing them to interview survivors and witnesses in other countries.

The report, released last month, documents the testimony of hundreds of witnesses who spoke of extermination, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence. It recommends North Korea be referred to the International Criminal Court.

North Korean Ambassador So Se Pyong condemned the commission's report. He said his government does not recognize the legitimacy of the Commission.

“Furthermore, its 'report,' which contains so-called 'testimonies' of fabricated natures as provided by those of “defectors from the north” with ambiguous identities, and criminals who escaped from the DPRK after committing crimes, is only a deceptive document that cannot convince anyone at all," said So, adding that North Korea's socialist system guarantees human rights and fundamental freedoms for all its people, legally and in practice.

China also questioned the Commission’s impartiality and the believability of its information. The Chinese representative told the U.N. Council the North Koreans who enter his country are economic migrants and not refugees in need of protection.

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