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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs