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UN rights expert calls for prosecution of top North Korea officials

[JURIST] UN human rights investigator Marzuki Darusman [official profile] urged [press release] the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] on Monday to push for the prosecution of top North Korean government officials for crimes against humanity. Darusman stressed [HRW report] that though the UNHRC, General Assembly and Security Council [official websites] have previously discussed North Korea's human rights violations, Kim Jong-un and his fellow leaders have yet to be held fully accountable for torturing and starving their people while devoting resources to ongoing weapon projects. Darusman called for referring the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] and establishing a panel of experts to strategize a proper accountability resolution. As Darusman calls for a universal effort against North Korea, the US, Japan and EU have expressed [Reuters report] support, albeit without specific mention of Kim Jong-un. Human Rights Watch (HRW) similarly called on the UNHRC to act and stated that referral to the ICC should be a priority. As expected, North Korean representatives boycotted the session and have yet to directly respond.

In light of the country's human rights record and instability, ongoing weapons tests in North Korea have been cause for international concern. Last Friday Kim Jong-un watched [JURIST report] a ballistic missile launch test and ordered more tests in order to improve the country's nuclear attack capabilities. In February UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called on [JURIST report] North Korea's government to stop violating international obligations after another missile launch was conducted. In January the US House of Representatives approved [JURIST report] legislation that would increase sanctions against North Korea for its continuation of nuclear testing. In November Japan and the EU circulated [JURIST report] a draft UN resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses and encouraging the UN Security Council to refer the country to the ICC, noting reports of torture, limits on freedom of mobility, restrictions on freedom of speech, restrictions on freedom of religion, privacy infringement, arbitrary imprisonment, prison camps and more. Darusman expressed deep concerns [JURIST report] regarding human rights violations in the country just a month earlier. In November 2014 Darusman said that there is enough evidence to hold Kim Jong-un responsible for "massive" human rights atrocities [JURIST report] committed in the country. In response to these concerns, the UN in June opened a new office [JURIST report] in Seoul to specifically monitor human rights in North Korea.

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