The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights plans to open a field office in Seoul within a few months to monitor human rights in North Korea.
In a report last year, a U.N. Commission of Inquiry tasked with probing human rights in North Korea recommended a series of actions, including the establishment of the field office, to improve the situation in the communist country.
“OHCHR is still in the process of finalizing administrative matters on the establishment of the field-based structure with the government of the Republic of Korea. The structure is expected to open in Seoul during the second quarter of this year,” an OHCHR official wrote in an email to the VOA Korean service. The official did not provide details on the issues that need to be finalized.
The move to establish the office drew strong protests from Pyongyang. North Korea’s Committee for Peaceful Unification threatened "merciless punishment" against South Korea for hosting the office.
Last week, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, Marzuki Darusman, who was a member of the U.N. investigation panel, told the U.N. Human Rights Council that the field office should not be threatened.
“It is crucial that this structure can function with independence and sufficient resources,” said the former Indonesian prosecutor general.
The Commission of Inquiry report accused North Korea’s leaders of committing crimes against humanity.
Last December, the U.N. General Assembly adopted its toughest resolution against Pyongyang for human rights abuses. The resolution called for the Security Council to consider referring the North Korean situation to the International Criminal Court.
This week, the U.N. Human Rights Council is expected to adopt a new resolution against Pyongyang.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.