The UN's Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) [official profile], Marzuki Darusman, expressed concern [press conference; UN News Centre report] on Friday about the lack of development in human rights in the nation. The DPRK, better known as North Korea, has struggled with securing its citizens' human rights, with no significant improvement since Kim Jong-Un became the new leader [JURIST report] earlier this year. Darusman expressed concern that the Jong-un continues to focus on funding the military before other priorities.
He was also wary that Mr. Kim had declared that his first, second and third priorities were to strengthen the nation’s military. Moreover, the slow economic growth there, coupled with the military-first policy, was detrimental to its people. It was also concerning that the freedom of expression was restricted and some provisions of its criminal code were not in line with the international standards, Mr. Darusman said. On the issue of abduction of Japanese and other foreign nationals, regrettably, there had been no further developments. He also noted that his report included a set of recommendations, which, among others, urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to ensure protection and promotion of human rights. His report also pressed the Government to cooperate with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to rethink its “military-first” policy and to allocate more resources to improving living standards.North Korea's UN delegate, Kim Song, rejected Darusman's findings [Reuters report] in a statement to the UN General Assembly Third Committee [official website].
Earlier this month, North Korea threatened military action [JURIST report] against South Korea if South Korean activists carried out their plan to pass leaflets across the border via balloons. North Korea has faced ongoing international criticism for human rights violations. In June, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that North Korea's caste system leads to abuses and human rights violations in the country. Darusman previously criticized North Korea's human rights record [JURIST report] in November 2011, focusing on the treatment of prisoners and echoing a UN General Assembly resolution [text] concerning the country's human rights conditions.