News / Asia

Panel to Investigate North Korean Abuses Praised

Lisa Schlein
— The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and human rights activists are hailing a UN decision to investigate gross violations in North Korea as a major breakthrough. The creation of a commission is a crucial first step toward holding North Korea accountable for what they describe as crimes against humanity. 

North Korea’s human rights record has been under scrutiny by UN human rights bodies for years.  But in a landmark decision, the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday, for the first time, adopted a resolution establishing a panel to formally investigate abuses against North Korean citizens.

The resolution, which passed unanimously, calls for a one-year investigation into a wide range of violations, including the right to food, and abuses associated with prison camps, torture, arbitrary detention, and disappearances among others.  

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay gestures during a press conference in Geneva.U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay gestures during a press conference in Geneva.
x
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay gestures during a press conference in Geneva.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay gestures during a press conference in Geneva.
In a hard-hitting report earlier this year, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, described the human rights situation in North Korea as one of the worst and least understood in the world.   Pillay said the time had come for a full-fledged international inquiry into the serious crimes that had been taking place in the country for decades, said her spokesman, Rupert Colville.

“She also noted that the spotlight is almost exclusively focused on the nuclear program and rocket launches.   So, that is no longer the case now thanks to the Council yesterday adopting this very important resolution…it is not excluding the human rights aspect, which is immense," he said. "Basically, pretty well the whole country is affected by human rights issues.   

The UN special investigator on the human rights situation in North Korea, Marzuki Darusman, will be one of the three members of the panel. The two other commissioners have not yet been appointed. The group will have a support team of nine to 12 people.  

It is widely expected the fact-finding mission will not be granted access into North Korea, which rejected the planned probe.  So, investigators will gather their information from satellite pictures and testimony from witnesses and experts in neighboring countries.  

Colville said the commission will submit its report, which he predicted could have a profoud impact, to the UN Council in September.

“Some earlier Commissions of Inquiries played really key roles in moving situations into the area of international justice, for example," he said. "So there was a Commission of Inquiry…in the former Yugoslavia, which predated the Hague Tribunal…So, Commissions of Inquiry - they are not judges, they are not juries.  They do not convict, but they do set a very powerful basis potentially for criminal justice systems.”  

The North Korean representative in Geneva resolutely rejected the resolution, characterizing it as a product of political confrontation and plot.  He said the resolution contains serious distortions, fabrications and accusations about the country’s human rights situation.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: kevin from: portland maine usa
March 23, 2013 12:37 AM
about time

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid