The head of a UN inquiry into human rights violations in North Korea has called on the United Nations to take action. The plea is based on a report of execution, slavery and mass imprisonment in the communist country.
"Contending with the great scourges of Nazism, [South African] apartheid, the Khmer Rouge and other affronts required courage by great nations and ordinary human beings alike," the chair of the UN's inquiry into North Korea, Michael Kirby, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.
"It is now your solemn duty to address the scourge of human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," Kirby said.
The call for UN action came roughly a month after a UN-commissioned investigation released a 400-page report documenting atrocities in North Korea. The findings were based on testimony given by North Korean exiles to South Korean and Japanese authorities.
North Korea refused to permit the UN team to enter the country to conduct its investigation - and denounced its members as "human scum" - but Kirby sent a copy of the report to the leadership in Pyongyang before it was officially released.
"Members of the United Nations: the commission of inquiry challenges you to address, with no further delay, the suffering of millions of North Koreans," Kirby said.
N. Korea, China denounce report
So Se Pyon, North Korea's permanent UN representative in Geneva, reiterated his country's stance on the report on Monday, calling its findings "shameless fabrications." He reportedly walked out of the Human Rights Council session shortly thereafter.
A Chinese representative in Geneva also criticized the report and questioned its credibility because it was based on an inquiry conducted outside of North Korea.
"The inability of the commission to get support and cooperation from the country concerned makes it impossible for the commission to carry out its mandate in an impartial, objective and effective manner," Chen Chuandong, a counsellor at China's mission in Geneva, said on Monday.
The findings of the inquiry have also given rise to calls by the European Union and Japan for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to try North Korean officials, including Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
"The EU believes that it is imperative that there be no impunity for those responsible for human rights violations," the EU's UN representative in Geneva, Mariangela Zappia, told the UN Human Rights Council on Monday. The council is to vote on a draft resolution from the EU and Japan next week.
kms/tj (AFP, Reuters)