News / Asia

UN Urges Probe Into 'Atrocious' N. Korean Crimes

UN Commission Accuses North Korea of Crimes Against Humanityi
X
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

TEXT SIZE - +
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.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
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?"

http://napoleonlive.info/see-the-evidence/facts-about-north-korea-2/


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
Fail...

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

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid