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UN Group Vows to Pressure North Korea on Abductees

FILE - North Korean soldiers on the banks of Yalu River near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, December 12, 2013.
The United Nations has vowed to continue working on the issue of North Korean abductions of South Korean nationals - regardless of how long it takes.

“Enforced disappearances cannot be justified for any reason whatsoever,” said Ariel Dulitzky, who chairs the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

He told VOA’s Korean service that his group recently asked Pyongyang to confirm the whereabouts of 12 South Koreans.

“The crime of enforced disappearances is a continued crime,” said Dulitzky. “So regardless of when the crime took place, it remains an issue we look into until [it is] resolved.”

Dulitzky declined to comment on when his group made the request to Pyongyang, which has yet to respond.

It is rare for the U.N. body to ask North Korea to confirm the status of purported abductees.

“The number of cases really depends on the initial requests the group receives from the victims’ family,” said Dulitzky, who also serves as law professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “We react to every request.”

The U.N. working group, which closely monitors the situation in the North by cooperating with the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK, does not have enforcement powers. But as Dulitzky explained, that does not stop it from reminding the reclusive regime of its obligations.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.

Jeewon Lee contributed to this report.