The Multilateralist

UN Rights Investigators Report on North Korea

The United Nations Human Rights Council experts tasked with examining North Korea’s human rights record have produced initial findings. North Korea has not cooperated with the probe, and Council investigators have focused on interviews with defectors and asylum seekers in South Korea and Japan: Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights ...

The United Nations Human Rights Council experts tasked with examining North Korea's human rights record have produced initial findings. North Korea has not cooperated with the probe, and Council investigators have focused on interviews with defectors and asylum seekers in South Korea and Japan:

Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had so far not cooperated with the Commission and it was pursuing alternative avenues to obtain direct and first-hand information in a transparent, independent and impartial manner.  In August, the Commission visited Seoul and Tokyo and held public hearings that provided hours of testimony from victims and experts, pointing to widespread and serious violations including torture, imprisonment, forcible repatriation, sexual violence, inhumane treatment, arbitrary detention, abductions, starvation, and guilt by association.  The individual testimonies did not represent isolated cases.  They were representative of large-scale patterns.  If any of the testimony could be shown to be untrue, the Commission invited the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to produce evidence to that effect.  

Kirby discussed some of the more gruesome findings with the BBC:

The United Nations Human Rights Council experts tasked with examining North Korea’s human rights record have produced initial findings. North Korea has not cooperated with the probe, and Council investigators have focused on interviews with defectors and asylum seekers in South Korea and Japan:

Michael Kirby, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had so far not cooperated with the Commission and it was pursuing alternative avenues to obtain direct and first-hand information in a transparent, independent and impartial manner.  In August, the Commission visited Seoul and Tokyo and held public hearings that provided hours of testimony from victims and experts, pointing to widespread and serious violations including torture, imprisonment, forcible repatriation, sexual violence, inhumane treatment, arbitrary detention, abductions, starvation, and guilt by association.  The individual testimonies did not represent isolated cases.  They were representative of large-scale patterns.  If any of the testimony could be shown to be untrue, the Commission invited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to produce evidence to that effect.  

Kirby discussed some of the more gruesome findings with the BBC:

Mr Kirby told BBC World TV that they had received testimony from people who had been born into the prison camps because their family members were already there.

"They had to live on rodents, grasshoppers, lizards and on grass and they were subject to cruelty," he said.

Mr Kirby said that one case told of inmates having to watch the public execution of their mother and brother.

The New York Times reports that China is not pleased:

Although China did not actively oppose the investigation, a senior Chinese diplomat in Geneva on Tuesday criticized the interim findings. “Politicized accusations and pressures are not helpful to improving human rights in any country,” Chen Chuandong said, according to Reuters. “On the contrary, they will only provoke confrontation and undermine the foundation and atmosphere for international human rights cooperation.” 

David Bosco is an associate professor at Indiana University's School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of books on the U.N. Security Council and the International Criminal Court, and is at work on a new book about governance of the oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

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