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Syria, North Korea to Be Scrutinized by UN Rights Body

A man attempts to identify bodies after what activists said were airstrikes carried out by the Russian air force in Idlib city, Syria, Dec. 20, 2015.

Syria and North Korea will come under close scrutiny for rights violations by the 47-member Human Rights Council during its upcoming four-week session, which begins Monday in Geneva.

The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council will discuss the records of more than 40 countries. It will examine current developments in Burundi, following last year’s special session on that country’s deteriorating situation.

The Council also will discuss more than 40 reports on universal themes, including torture, summary executions, forced disappearances, religious freedom, and countering terrorism. Among them, a report by the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria is to be submitted on March 15.

New Council President Choi Kyong-lim said he expects a very focused discussion on the human rights conditions in Syria.

“Staying focused on the human rights conditions in Syria... will also send a very strong message to the people in Syria who are committing these atrocities that their crimes will be eventually accountable in the future,” Choi said.

Ambassador Choi is from South Korea, but assured VOA he will maintain a neutral and impartial stance in all matters, including the examination of North Korea’s human rights record.

“Like in the case of Syria, we may not be able to see immediate improvement in the human rights conditions in North Korea. But I think it is still very important for the international community to continue to discuss, highlight the terrible human rights situations in North Korea,” he said.

Choi said some encouraging signs can be seen in North Korea agreeing to have its human rights record examined under the Council’s Universal Periodic Review. In addition, he said talks are underway for a possible visit to North Korea by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.