News / Asia

UN Rights Expert Recommends Probe of N. Korean Abuses

United Nations Special Rapporteur on North Korea, Marzuki Darusman delivers his report to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, March 11, 2013.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on North Korea, Marzuki Darusman delivers his report to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, March 11, 2013.
Lisa Bryant
A United Nations expert says North Korea’s abusive treatment of its population could amount to crimes against humanity. The U.N. special investigator on the human rights situation in North Korea is calling for an international probe into what he says are grave, systematic and widespread violations.

In his report, the U.N. special investigator, Marzuki Darusman, identifies nine patterns of human rights violations, ranging from torture and enslavement to enforced disappearances and murder.

He submitted a massive amount of documentation to the U.N. Human Rights Council, and says it shows a pattern of abuse that may amount to crimes against humanity.  

For example, he says up to 200,000 people are detained under slave-like conditions in a number of what he calls political concentration camps, collection centers and labor training camps.  He says whole families are punished and deported to these centers for the transgression of one individual.

“These are camps that have the purpose of driving the people being detained there toward a slow death by having them forcibly labor … and the dire conditions of the camps give a picture of the horrid conditions that prevail for the sole purpose of separating these people from the population at large,” Darusman said.   

The investigator cites torture and detention without due process of law as some of the most flagrant human rights violations.  He says the government violates peoples’ right to food by manipulating the amount they receive.  He says food is used as a means to control the population and make it dependent on the government.

Darusman says every July and August there is a state of famine in North Korea because the government distributes insufficient quantities of food.  He says the government relies on the international community to provide food to save its people from starvation.

The investigators says the government has passed new laws that punish slight misdemeanors very harshly.  For instance, a person who misses work can be imprisoned for two years.  

“That metes out punishment in a way that goes beyond the proportionate crime that it is intended to deter.  And, this gives you a picture of the regime becoming more and more rigid and harsh,” Darusman said.  

The North Korean representative rejected the report, saying it contains faked material about his country’s human rights situation.  He says the information was fabricated and invented by hostile forces and defectors who aim to sabotage his country’s socialist system.

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