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UN to Investigate Rights Violations in North Korea

  • VOA News

North Koreans walk past posters reading "Forward to the ultimate victory under the leadership of the great party!" on March 19, 2013 on a street in Phyongchon District in Pyongyang.

North Koreans walk past posters reading "Forward to the ultimate victory under the leadership of the great party!" on March 19, 2013 on a street in Phyongchon District in Pyongyang.

The United Nations has established a commission to investigate human rights violations in North Korea, saying some of them may amount to "crimes against humanity." The U.N. Human Rights Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday to create the commission, which will probe "systematic, widespread and grave" rights violations in North Korea. The resolution also condemns alleged torture and labor camps for political prisoners in North Korea.

The European Union and Japan presented the resolution, with backing from the United States.

Human rights groups have long called for international efforts to stop North Korean rights abuses, thought to be among the worst in the world.

The group Human Rights Watch said the U.N. inquiry will help expose "decades of abuse" by North Korea's government.

North Korean officials have denied allegations that Pyongyang is committing human rights abuses.

A U.N.-appointed human rights authority, Marzuki Darusman, recently recommended a probe into violations in North Korea. In a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Darusman said a probe will help pressure Pyongyang to improve conditions. The report described abuses including murder, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, political and religious persecution, and kidnappings. Darusman also said conditions in North Korea have worsened since Kim Jong Un took power following the death in 2011 of his father, Kim Jong Il.

North Korea's delegate to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Choi Seokyoung, said Darusman's report was part of a Western-led conspiracy against his government.

Support for a U.N. inquiry has been mounting, partly because Russia and China -- traditional allies of North Korea -- have rotated out of the human rights council.

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