News / Asia

UN Commission: 'Gross Human Rights Violations' Taking Place in N. Korea

FILE - Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea, gestures during a news conference after delivering his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Sept. 17, 2013.
FILE - Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea, gestures during a news conference after delivering his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Sept. 17, 2013.
Margaret Besheer
The head of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea says evidence collected so far points to apparently “large-scale patterns of systematic and gross human rights violations” in that country. Commission Chairman Michael Kirby said testimony from witnesses and survivors was so shocking that it moved commission members to tears. 
 
Torture, sexual violence, denial of food, arbitrary detention, abduction of foreigners, the return of refugees to certain imprisonment - these are just some of the grave human rights abuses that Commission members and the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea detailed Tuesday at the United Nations.
 
Kirby, an Australian judge with 35 years of experience, said testimony was so distressing members were sometimes moved to tears.
 
“Some testimony has been extremely distressing; testimony concerning the detention facilities, the lack of proper food in them, the fact that people are in the detention facilities who have committed no offense and no crime, according to their testimony, but who are simply there because of the notion of inter-generational guilt which is a feature of the system in North Korea,” said Kirby.
 
Kirby also said the commission has obtained satellite images that show at least four political prison camps that remain fully operational.  He said a fifth camp appears to have been significantly scaled-down, while another camp was closed.  He said the commission wants to know what happened to the prisoners in these two camps.
 
Kirby said the commission, which was mandated by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, has received good cooperation from a number of states, but not North Korea.
 
Commissioners conducted more than 200 interviews with victims, witnesses and experts during visits to a number of nations, including South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Britain. Later this week, public hearings will be held in Washington, D.C.
 
The Commissioners said the treatment of women in North Korea is a serious problem. Commissioner Sonja Biserko said women are victims at home and as refugees.
 
“About 80 percent of refugees are women.  Not only do they undergo tough experiences, they very often have to accept to be trafficked and sold to Chinese men because they do not want to return.  But once caught by Chinese and sent back home they undergo severe punishments, either sent to prisons or kept in detention centers and treated in the most horrible way,” said Biserko.  
 
In his report, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea, Marzuki Darusman, wrote that it is illegal for citizens to try to leave that country. He expressed concern that the government of Kim Jong-un has enacted a shoot-on-sight decree on persons crossing the northern border into China. 
 
Darusman said that policy, coupled with harsh punishments inflicted on asylum seekers who are returned home, may in part be the reason for a drop in the numbers of North Koreans who have safely reached South Korea since 2012.
 
Darusman also criticized Pyongyang for its “military first” policy, saying it has put millions at risk of serious food shortages “that border on mass famine”.

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ji park from: UK
November 01, 2013 7:29 PM
I wish all world know the about north korea women rights

by: ysh from: China
October 30, 2013 10:52 AM
yeah,the reason why North-Korea are so poor is that US always give the sanction to this country,if US do not do it,I think,people will have a better life
In Response

by: Thomas from: Connecticut, USA
October 30, 2013 11:49 PM
Well, China is an active trading partner, yet their economy is still in tatters. Care to think of other reasons why North Korea is so poor?

by: Loretta King from: USA
October 29, 2013 11:44 PM
REALY...???!!! you don't say... wow... now if the UN could only muster the fortitude to see what the hell is going on in Lebanon Hamas The Philistinian "territories" and Iran and Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Syria... but we all know the UN is GROSSLY INCOMPETENT...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs