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
    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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Harry Kuheim from: usa
    February 17, 2014 2:42 PM
    This is a laugh...the UN empowered/ legitimatized/created the PRNK in 1953...everyone knew it would become a repressive Communist Police State right out of George Orwell's 1984 Novel...Now they "Get it"? This beyond pathetic...
    In Response

    by: Al from: Ottawa
    February 17, 2014 4:31 PM
    Ummm... the state was established in 1948. And it's DPRK, not PRNK. It wasn't the UN that empowered/created the DPRK.... that was Russia. The UN was responsible for the establishment of South Korea (aka ROK... or PRSK for you). How about you let folks who actually know stuff do the commenting? Pathetic? You bet.

    by: Jerry Gerber from: San Francisco
    February 17, 2014 2:38 PM
    Without minimizing the above named crimes committed by North Korea--these are serious crimes to be sure--I am nevertheless bothered by the equally serious crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by my own government, the United States. Some of these crimes include: Torture, assassination of both foreign nationals and American citizens without charges or trial, the systematic murder of women, children, innocent men (drone strikes, U.S. officials call it "collateral damage"), violations of our own 4th amendment via the NSA, the rape culture of the U.S. military, bombing and invading countries that were not capable of, or planning, war against us (Iraq)--the list goes on. These are also war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Just as politics is first and foremost the abuse of language, nationalism is first and foremost the practice of hypocrisy. The United Nations is, hopefully, the precursor to real world law, which means that the people who lead the most powerful nations are held to the same legal and moral standard as those leaders of weak and poor countries. That's the kind of world I wish to live in, and so do billions of other human beings.



    by: onefeather from: USA
    February 17, 2014 2:12 PM
    Any leader or person who controls a country or nation that does these crimes should be taken out. No person deserves or should have to live in fear and hate and control.
    This should be a subtle wake up call for how governments become and then get total control, seems a wake up call for what some governments do slowly to gain control. When you are told you have No rights then it becomes dangerous..hummm seems our government is slowly doing just that. We need to look in our own "backyard".

    by: Patrick from: America
    February 17, 2014 2:11 PM
    If only there was a way to rescue the hundreds of thousands of N. Koreans before they are subject to near-future pains as well.. It is 2014, our world could be so much more advanced and productive if we could just unify and put aside these bullshit differences. Take out the idiot leaders who got 'lucky' and born into leadership positions they obviously can't control, but abuse. The inevitable will happen, one day North Korea will be free, but how many more lives need to be ended? I understand many Asian countries have long-lived traditions of rape, murder, kidnappings, anti-freedoms, etc. but how can the world stand for it? It's save them now, or wait many years and allow 'scum' like Kim Jung Un to continue his family traditions of otherworldly leadership.. What can we do to help? Is there nothing? Are we really allowing this to happen?

    I was lucky enough to be born in the US, how about you? ANY of us could have been placed in their shoes.

    #savethem
    In Response

    by: Sasha from: America
    February 18, 2014 3:45 AM
    When you say "save them now" you are euphemistically referring to a full-blown war in Korea.

    How do you think that will affect the welfare of the people who are suffering?

    Which people do you think will be put out front for our soldiers to kill? Most of the country is formally part of its army.

    What about all the millions of civilians in DPRK's range who will die in minutes in Seoul and possibly Japan after such an engagement begins?

    Don't you think China would be drawn into the client state that is in its sphere of influence, where the US last fought China? And don't you see that Russia would also be drawn in? And do you understand what this means for our soldiers and for the world?

    Don't demand any-old-action, right now. You might just get what you wish for, and besides killing a lot of people all it will do is satisfy your personal whims.

    by: Kelly from: Florida
    February 17, 2014 2:10 PM
    If Kim gets any doubt over anybody he executes them. Is he elected leader of NK? No he is a dictator. His crimes in just 2 years is mind boggling that too in a cruellest way. He is more threat to NK and it's people than others. Unless he is removed there will be any hope for NK people. His supporting nation must be suspended from UN for violating maritime law and space law and trying to encroach international space and water based on clumsy basis which has had no significance and purportedly followed by imperials who the same imperials made this nation imperial country for century. The colonial establishments has had no meaning at all in UN otherwise the same country should be part of imperials. Therefore strong action on this supporting main threat is essential to take action on NK which is beneficial to whole Asia.

    by: Cranios from: USA
    February 17, 2014 2:10 PM
    This is just one more bit of evidence that the UN is a toothless, castrated entity. How can you have an organization bring anyone to justice if it has despotic regimes like China holding veto power? How absurd. If the UN had been in charge, Hitler would still be running death camps - because that's exactly what N. Korea is doing and we're standing idly by, doing nothing in response.
    In Response

    by: Cranios from: USA
    February 18, 2014 2:10 PM
    John: I understand that the UN wasn't in existence during Hitler's time. That's why I said "IF".
    So IF the UN had been in charge, Hitler would have won.
    In Response

    by: onefeather from: USA
    February 17, 2014 11:02 PM
    Well said.
    In Response

    by: John from: USA
    February 17, 2014 3:10 PM
    Dude, UN did not exist when Hitler was bulling the world. Get your history straight.
    In Response

    by: jj from: usa
    February 17, 2014 2:44 PM
    Another laughable example of the "power" of the UN

    by: Kenneth from: California
    February 17, 2014 2:02 PM
    A step in the right direction. Hopefully can put an end to slave labor and these atrocities

    by: Deborah Beaudoin-Zaki from: Providence, RI
    February 17, 2014 2:02 PM
    Why was Crimes Against Humanity not charged against all who invalided Iraq (especially USA and England)? This war was about control of another nation's resources by foreign politicians and mega corporations. Watch the PBS Documentry: Frontline; Bush's War can google and watch on line.
    In Response

    by: Stoshy from: Pakistan
    February 18, 2014 5:45 PM
    No, it was about a crazed dictator who threatened America and its allies. He committed equally atrocious acts against his own people. He was brought to justice because of it. He threatened the oil supplies of Saudi Arabia and other neighboring nations.
    Do I even need a source? This was common knowledge pre-war. How was it forgotten post-war?
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    February 17, 2014 5:07 PM
    Q. Guess who isn't getting any of the oil coming out of Iraq?
    A. The USA
    The problem with these supposed war crimes is most of them are unfounded. But I am sure your ok with Uncle Saddam gassing his own people. Your argument is invalid. Sorry, but not really.
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.