A U.N. human rights inquiry has concluded North Korea is committing "unspeakable atrocities" against its people.
A U.N.-mandated report says the North Korean government, with policies set at the "highest level of state," has engaged in crimes against humanity that do not have "any parallel in the contemporary world."
The 400-page report released in Geneva said the Pyongyang government has systematically exterminated, tortured and enslaved its people, ordered forced abortions, and persecuted people on political, religious, racial and gender grounds.
The U.N. report called for the international community to take urgent action to refer the North Korean government to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.
In a letter accompanying the report, top U.N. investigator Michael Kirby wrote North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month that he may be held personally responsible for the crimes against humanity being carried out by his country. The report said he had refused to respond to an advance copy of the report.
The report also criticized China, accusing it of forcibly repatriating North Koreans who have crossed the border into China. The United Nations said those returned to North Korea have been subject to torture, summary execution and various forms of sexual violence.
North Korea said it "categorically and totally" rejects the report's conclusions. Pyongyang said it was "a product of politicization of human rights on the part of the (European Union) and Japan in alliance with the U.S. hostile policy."
The United States said the report "clearly and unequivocally documents the brutal reality" of North Korea's human rights abuses.