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UN rights expert urges international inquiry into North Korea violations

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea [official website] Marzuki Darusman on Monday urged [press release] the international community to establish comprehensive investigative mechanisms to probe and document human rights abuses in North Korea. The report [report, PDF], presented to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website], stems from research into more than 60 international documents categorizing nine interlinked trends of "grave" human rights abuses occurring in North Korea since 2004. The recurring trends, or "underlying patterns," include violations of the right to food, pervasive impunity, torture, circumscription of due process, public executions, and enforced disappearances. Darusman asserted that research has uncovered large disparities in categorical documentation resulting from North Korea's refusal to allow independent media into the country, restrictions on citizen's ability to travel abroad and the government's refusal to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms. However, Darusman asserted that the "credible and consistent" information already collected demonstrates the pressing need for systematic and "well-resourced" investigative measures to examine and document human rights abuses. In addition, Darusman urged focused inquiry into issues of institutional and personal accountability for human rights violations, including assessment of when such violations constitute crimes against humanity. The report includes analysis from 16 resolutions from the UN General Assembly [official website] and the UNHRC and 22 reports by Darusman's office.

The UN has sought to investigate and counter human rights abuses in North Korea in the past. In February Darusman and a group of independent human rights experts announced [JURIST report] their support for an international inquiry into human rights violations in North Korea to bring awareness to the country's system of political prison camps. Also in February Darusman urged [JURIST report] the UNHRC and the General Assembly to investigate human rights violations in North Korea. In November he expressed concern [JURIST report] over the country's lack of development in human rights, and called on its new leader, Kim Jong-un [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], to remedy the matter. In January UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned North Korea's human rights record [JURIST report] and urged the international community to make efforts to improve the situation. Pillay's plea came only days after Human Rights Watch called on the UN [JURIST report] to examine human rights abuses, particularly in light of the drop in individuals escaping into China and reports by successful escapees of increasing crackdown on escape attempts.

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