News / Asia

UN Calls for North Korea Human Rights Inquiry

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addressed the Human Rights Council on Syria at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. (AP)UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addressed the Human Rights Council on Syria at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. (AP)
x
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addressed the Human Rights Council on Syria at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. (AP)
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addressed the Human Rights Council on Syria at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. (AP)
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Schlein
— The U.N.’s top human rights official is calling for an international inquiry into what she calls the "deplorable human rights situation" in North Korea.  The high commissioner says the elaborate network of political prison camps, forced labor and torture in the country cannot be allowed to continue.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says initial hopes that North Korea’s new young leader Kim Jong Un would bring about some positive change in the country’s human rights situation have not occurred.  

No improvement

She says the country shows almost no sign of improvement and the elaborate network of political prison camps and the atrocious treatment of the inmates remains in place.  She says she is concerned by the international community’s single-minded focus on North Korea’s nuclear program and periodic rocket launches, which deflects attention away from the country’s dire human rights situation.

Pillay’s spokesman, Rupert Colville, says nobody knows for sure how many prisoners are in the political prison camps or even how many camps there are.  He says the only information available is obtained from prisoners who have escaped.

“It is believed, but it is a very, very rough estimate that perhaps around 200,000 people are kept in these camps.  Some of them are born there," Colville says. "So, you are sort of punished from birth, very often for something your grandfather did.  And, the stories from the people who have escaped are really harrowing, awful situations.  There is no parallel really anywhere else in the world.”  

Colville says the high commissioner met with two survivors of North Korea’s prison system before Christmas.  He says they described a system of unspeakable cruelty.  He says people are subject to rampant violations, including torture, summary executions, rape, slave labor, and forms of collective punishment that may amount to crimes against humanity.

Colville tells reporters living conditions in the camps are atrocious.  He says people do not get enough to eat, there is little or no medical care and no adequate clothing.  Colville says entire families are punished for reasons unknown to them.  He says babies are born in prison.  They grow up there and know no other life.

“And, that is also alarming.  The distortion of reality that goes on in there. So people think it is perfectly normal to report on your own family and then watch your own family being executed as a result of your own words," he explains. "And, that was a situation described by one of the people the High Commissioner met.  He actually was forced to watch the execution of his mother and his brother and they were executed because of something he said.  He, a child at the time said they had been saying.”  

High Commissioner Pillay says it is time the international community takes a much firmer step towards applying serious pressure to bring about change for North Korea’s beleaguered, subjugated population of 20 million people.

She says an in-depth inquiry into one of the worst, but least understood and reported, human rights situations in the world is fully justified and long overdue.

The U.N. Human Rights Office gave a copy of High Commissioner Pillay’s report to North Korea’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva.  So far, it has received no response.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid