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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
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.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid