News / Asia

Support Mounts for UN Probe on N. Korean Rights Abuses

A North Korean military guard post in Kaepoong is viewed from the unification observation post near the border village of Panmunjom, north of Seoul, South Korea, February 13, 2013.
A North Korean military guard post in Kaepoong is viewed from the unification observation post near the border village of Panmunjom, north of Seoul, South Korea, February 13, 2013.
VOA News
International support is mounting for the United Nations to conduct a formal investigation into the human rights situation in North Korea, where conditions are believed to be among the worst in the world.

The United States on Thursday said it would support a U.N. probe into what State Department spokesperson called the "deplorable" human rights condition in the secretive communist state.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland (file photo)State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland (file photo)
x
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland (file photo)
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland (file photo)
"We do support the establishment of enhanced mechanisms of inquiry into the DPRK's human rights violations at the U.N. Human Rights Council upcoming session," she said.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday also adopted legislation calling for support of the investigation, with lawmakers warning that North Korea is in a "class by itself" in terms of human rights abuses.

​U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay last month called for an international inquiry into the situation of what she described as North Korea's "beleaguered, subjugated population." She said the situation has shown almost no sign of improvement under new leader Kim Jong Un.

Japan and several European Union diplomats have already signaled support for the inquiry.

Greg Scarlatiou, who heads the U.S.-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, tells VOA this reflects a growing trend of global support for holding Pyongyang accountable for its human rights abuses.

"For the past few years, votes in favor of the United Nations General Assembly addressing the North Korean human rights situation have been on the increase, while votes against such resolutions or abstentions have been on the decrease," he said.

Scarlatiou says there is also more willingness to address North Korean human rights partly because Russia and China have rotated out of the human rights council.

Efforts to address the issue have been complicated because U.N. rights officials and other human rights groups are not allowed access to North Korea. But Scarlatiou says that is changing.

"What has changed is that there have been numerous North Koreans leaving the country since a great famine hit North Korea in the 1990s," says Scarlatiou. "They have provided valuable testimony, valuable evidence, to the extent that the U.N. High Commission [on Human Rights] was persuaded."

Scarlatiou says a U.N. commission of inquiry, which would be made up of independent experts and scholars, would help by "shedding light" and publishing facts on the "abysmal" situation in North Korea.  He says as many as 200,000 people are being held in North Korean prison camps, where torture, rape and slave labor have been reported.

North Korea has rejected the charges, saying they are politically-motivated attempts to smear its reputation.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
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 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.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs