GENEVA - The U.N. Special Investigator on human rights in North Korea is calling for human rights issues to be included in next week's U.S.-North Korean summit in Singapore on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
U.N. investigator Tomas Ojea said he does not believe a discussion of the human rights situation in North Korea will undermine the summit. On the contrary, he said such a discussion would work in North Korea's favor because it would show its desire to become a normal state.
He told VOA the United States has taken a very strong stance regarding the human rights situation in North Korea, so he believes and hopes U.S. President Donald Trump will follow up on this during his discussions with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
"Otherwise," he added, "that will be a misstep, first in terms of the negotiations because unless human rights is addressed in the negotiation of the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, I think that would not allow for a sustainable agreement."
Ojea said history shows that ignoring human rights works against everyone's interests. He noted that human rights issues were put aside 25 years ago when a framework agreement was worked out to freeze North Korea's nuclear power plant. And he said human rights were left out again during six-party talks not too long ago.
"Those processes, although they were well-intentioned, were not successful," he said. "So for this new process to be successful, my humble opinion as a human rights rapporteur is that the human rights dialogue should be included because it is part of the discussion.Human rights and security and peace are interlinked, definitely, and this is the situation where we can prove that."
North Korea is considered to have one of the worst human rights records in the world. The United Nations accuses the government of widespread, gross violations of human rights, some amounting to crimes against humanity.
They include violations of the right to food, forced labor, arbitrary detention and torture.A report in 2014 finds between 80,000 and 120,000 people are detained in political prison camps.