15 Feb 2014

UN finds crimes against humanity in N Korea

A UN panel has reportedly found crimes against humanity have been committed in North Korea and will call for an international criminal investigation. The commission says it has found evidence of an array of crimes, including "extermination," crimes against humanity against starving populations and a widespread campaign of abductions of individuals in South Korea and Japan.

NK Forced labour

The UN has not yet confirmed the report's accuracy but North Korea's UN mission in New York has rejected the report's findings. North Korea's ally, China, would be likely to block any referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The commission conducted public hearings with more than 80 victims and other witnesses in Seoul, Tokyo, London and Washington, but was not allowed into North Korea itself, recommends that the UN Security Council refer its findings to the ICC in The Hague. Testimony by North Korean defectors at last year's hearings produced accounts of systematic rape, murder and torture, and suffering during the famine of the late 1990s.

The report refers to murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortion, sexual violence, forcible transfers and forced disappearances, and persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds. It also cites the overall system of political repression, the 'songbun' class system that discriminates against North Koreans on the basis of their family's perceived loyalty to the regime, and executions and punishment through forced labor in the North's gulag.

Other than speaking to defectors, the commission heard from experts about North Korea's network of camps, estimated to hold 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners, and about access to food in the country, where many children suffer stunted growth because of malnutrition.

Al Jazeera English - Human rights in North Korea (Wikipedia)