News / Asia

UN Urges Probe Into 'Atrocious' N. Korean Crimes

UN Commission Accuses North Korea of Crimes Against Humanityi
February 18, 2014 12:31 AM
A United Nations commission says North Korean officials - and possibly even North Korean leader Kim Jong Un - should be tried for crimes against humanity. A report released Monday by the U.N.’s Commission of Inquiry on North Korea compared many of the abuses to crimes committed by the Nazis during World War II. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Watch related video by VOA's Jeff Seldin
Daniel Schearf
A new United Nations report accuses North Korea of  “unspeakable atrocities," many of which amount to crimes against humanity. 

The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea is calling for an international tribunal to investigate the alleged crimes and to bring those most responsible to justice. 

The chair of the three-member commission said Monday that the panel gathered abundant evidence from more than 80 witnesses and satellite images. Many of the witnesses were defectors who survived prison camps and escaped across the border and through China.

“We had testimony, which is quoted in the report, which tells the stories of the prison camps -- of the starvation, of the great famine and of the deployment of inadequate resources … of the babies who are born stunted and who remain stunted … of abductions, of the public executions, and of the fact that many people simply disappear -- they disappear either into the prison camps or into public executions or private and secret executions,” he said.

Even before details were released Monday on the panel's historic one-year investigation, leaks to the media showed it found gross violations.
They include summary executions, rape, torture, forced abortions and enslavement.
The U.N. report said religious minorities and political dissidents suffer the most, with up to 120,000 living in town-sized prison camps.
Lee Jung-hoon, South Korea's Ambassador for Human Rights, said the U.N. report is the first reliable and legal evidence of atrocities in North Korea.

He said the report also specifies that North Korea’s crimes can be labeled as genocide, which means the crime can be applied to the leadership of North Korea, including Kim Jong Un.

There are no exemptions to this crime, Lee said. So, even if the two Koreas are reunified within 5, 10 or 50 years, the leaders of North Korea can still be punished.
North Korea refused to allow U.N. investigators to visit the country and rejected the panel's formation as slander against it. 
Despite the call for prosecution, there is little chance North Korean leaders will face justice.
A U.N. Security Council decision would be needed to send the case to the International Criminal Court, and North Korea's main backer, China, has veto power.
During the investigation, Beijing ignored the U.N. panel's  request to visit its border area with North Korea.
China's Foreign Ministry Monday said submitting the U.N. report to the ICC would not help resolve human rights in North Korea.
However, Lilian Lee, with the Citizens Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, is still optimistic.  She pointed out that the mere existence of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry (COI) was once dismissed as impossible.
"So I don’t think that we can count out any legal mechanism taking place because of one or two specific countries. You know of course it may not happen right away.  And, just like it took many years for the COI to establish itself for North Korea, we can probably assume that it can take many more years for any sort of justice system to take action," Lee said.
The commission sent the report to Pyongyang in January but never received a reply.
The report's findings will officially be presented March 17 to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The report is being made public as relations between the two Koreas are improving and will come out just days before renewed cross-border family reunions.
Seoul convinced Pyongyang on Friday to resume the reunions despite its joint military drills with the U.S.
Ambassador Lee said the timing of North Korea's concession just ahead of the U.N. report is not likely a coincidence.
Lee said North Korea knows how strong the U.N. panel's recommendation is. In other words, he assesses that North Korea did not change sincerely but is taking a quick strategy to try to avoid criticism by the international community.
The two sides also agreed not to slander each other so Pyongyang will be closely watching Seoul's comments on the U.N. report.
VOA Seoul Bureau Producer Youmi Kim and Lisa Schlein in Geneva contributed to this report.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: chris from: China
February 17, 2014 10:44 PM
the terrible thing happening in North Korea is true. i heard much about it. i hate that country and i feel ashamed of China to be the evil's only backer in the world, where is GOD? just make them pay ....

by: Jerry Frey from: USA
February 17, 2014 7:40 PM
"Why Does China Coddle North Korea?"

by: LieutenantCharlie from: USA
February 17, 2014 5:24 PM
Sounds a lot like Nazi Germany, (and the Axis of Evil Japan and Italy), in 1939.
Maybe its' time to deal with Fascist North Korea, Islamic Terrorist Iran, and the evil Terrorist Muslim Brotherhood

by: Jimmy C from: USA
February 17, 2014 3:47 PM

Article 1: The Purposes of the United Nations are:
To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace...;

by: Jonny from: Perelo
February 17, 2014 3:34 PM
I think the point is now none of us can say we weren't aware. In years to come as this becomes history the question will be asked how could we have stood by and done nothing.

So sad, and equally problematic are the self-righteous people who use this report to either condemn the UN for their own narrow political beliefs or those that fail to understand that somethings are worth fighting for.

It appears that in 2014 the human race is nothing more than an amalgamation of self centered nihilistic individuals.

by: Hey look over there from: Corporate States of
February 17, 2014 3:31 PM
This UN report smells like a pre-planned distraction. As if we didn't already know that N. Korea was a hell hole.

by: Goat029324` from: New Jersey
February 17, 2014 3:31 PM
Let Dennis Rodman handle it.

by: Sang Riel from: Canada
February 17, 2014 3:05 PM
The Syrians will be so happy that an injustice may be righted. The Tutsis and the Hutus will unite in song and their hearts will soar at the righteousness of it all. The Canadian Aboriginals will cheer from the squalor of the distant reserve. Humanity will cheer... at last they will do nothing , yet again.

by: ebob2k from: USA
February 17, 2014 2:59 PM
Many years ago, the UN took a vote on something similarly serious, and was only able to pass it without veto because the Soviets had walked out. That vote was on, you probably DIDN’T guess. Korea!

If you want something done NOW, and done the way it should be done, you cannot depend on the UN to do it. They are, it’s sad to say, virtually impotent for every action they handle. (With their track record, I seriously doubt that ANY politician in the free world would want the UN, or anyone like them, as their sole security force.)

by: Sang Riel from: Ottawa Ontario Canada
February 17, 2014 2:53 PM
Should we all feel better now that the UN is involved ? Do the Syrian people feel better now ? Are the Tutsi and the Hutu going to hold hands and sing kumbaya now that the UN is involved ? Give us a break. Go in armed to the teeth and kill anything that moves or shaaaadup
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