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UN rights forum to pursue North Korea human rights abuses

The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution condemning human rights abuses by North Korea. UN officials are even considering ways to bring Pyongyang to justice through the International Criminal Court.

The UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday established a group of experts to seek ways to punish Pyongyang for its human rights abuses over the years.

The move came after the council adopted a resolution brought forth by the EU and Japan condemning the "long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations committed in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."

Among those violations were "acts of extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape and other grave forms of sexual violence and persecution on political, religious and gender grounds in political prison camps and ordinary prisons."

Pyongyang responds

Nordkorea Diktator Kim Jong-un

North Korea rejected the resolution, suggesting it was part of a conspiracy

North Korea's diplomatic mission to Geneva responded quickly to the resolution, telling the Reuters news agency that it was the "product of political and military confrontation, plot and conspiracy of the United States and other hostile forces."

"We totally reject the anti-DPRK 'resolution' as it represents an extreme manifestation of politicization, selectivity and double standards," the statement read, using the initials for the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Russia and China said they "disassociated" themselves from the decision made by the rest of the 47-member council.

Legal pathways to justice

The council said the group of exports should focus on ways to hold Pyongyang accountable, in order to "secure truth and justice for the victims."

Among the methods the council is exploring is the possible referral of North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. However, such a referral would require the backing of China and Russia.

The same day the UN Human Rights Council issued its statement about North Korea, it also announced the establishment of a three-person commission to investigate human rights abuses in South Sudan, whose government agreed to cooperate with the organization.

blc/jr (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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