News / Asia

Rights Report on North Korea May Have Little Immediate Effect

Rights Report on North Korea May Have Little Immediate Effecti
X
February 21, 2014 5:22 AM
United Nations Commission of Inquiry has issued a new report that documents crimes against humanity in North Korea -- including forced labor and starvation in prison camps, sexual abuse of prisoners and public executions for political offenses. The commission urges the international community to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court, but human rights experts say that is unlikely to happen. VOA United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer reports.
Margaret Besheer
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry has issued a new report that  documents crimes against humanity in North Korea -- including forced labor and starvation in prison camps, sexual abuse of prisoners and public executions for political offenses. The commission urges the international community to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court, but human rights experts say that is unlikely to happen. 
 
The report documents systematic abuses allegedly committed by top officials, possibly even North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
 
The U.N. Human Rights Council will discuss the report on March 17. It is likely to adopt a resolution that could bring the matter to the Security Council, which can refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court.
 
However, Asia Society analyst Mike Kulma said, China will likely veto any effort to do so.
 
“I don’t think it can ever get through the Security Council. The Chinese are just not going to -- not to put everything on the Chinese -- but the Chinese simply are not going to agree to it,” said Kulma.
 
Even so, Ivan Simonovic, the U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for human rights, said his office supports an ICC referral and the report could play a role in a future prosecution.
 
“I think after this horrendous report, there will be pressure of member states to ensure that something else is done too. On behalf of my office, [the] Human Rights office... [can] document and be a depository of various testimonies, various evidence, that can at a certain point in time be used in criminal proceedings against perpetrators.”
 
Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia chief for Human Rights Watch, said via Skype that the report makes it difficult for world leaders to ignore abuses in North Korea.
 
"That is as it should be. Because, frankly, if we look at the role of human rights abuses in North Korea, the government uses fear to perpetuate its rule. It’s the fear of being sent to a political prison camp, it’s the fear of being detained, tortured, beaten and perhaps publically executed that keeps the North Korean people in line," said Robertson.
 
The Asia Society’s Kulma added that human rights could become a recurring point in the discussion of other North Korean issues.
 
“What might be the impact of this report as countries in the U.N. deliberate on how to react to, say another nuclear test by the North Koreans? Or how they react to a missile test by North Korea? Will it do anything to the strength of any sanctions that are put into place against North Korea?” asked Kulma.
 
North Korea analysts said that over the short term, the U.N. report is unlikely to push Pyongyang to change its behavior. But in the longer term, sustained international pressure could have some effect.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs