DCSIMG

Act over horror of N Korea rights abuses, UN told

Kim Jonguns regime has been investigated by the UN. Picture: Getty

Kim Jonguns regime has been investigated by the UN. Picture: Getty

  • by CARA ANNA
 

The UN investigator that ­accused North Korea of crimes against humanity has told the Security Council it must take ­action against “a totalitarian state without parallel in the contemporary world”.

The UN investigator that ­accused North Korea of crimes against humanity has told the Security Council it must take ­action against “a totalitarian state without parallel in the contemporary world”.

Michael Kirby said the abuse perpetrated by the secretive Pyongyang government ­“exceeds all others in duration, intensity and horror”. He and his team have previously said abuses by Kim Jong-un’s regime resemble those of the Nazis.

Mr Kirby – a former judge in Australia who has marked himself out at the UN for his no-nonsense style – later said that most council members agreed the matter should be ­referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Human Rights Watch has ­described some of the practices in North Korea as “extraordinarily severe”.

It was the first time the council had met to discuss an ­unprecedented UN report into rights abuses in North Korea that contains graphic details and an urgent call to action.

But despite mounting evidence, China, the reclusive Communist regime’s main ally, did not attend, nor did Russia.

As permanent Security Council members, both hold veto powers which can block sanctions and military force, making any council action against North Korea highly unlikely. 
“We dare say that the case of human rights in the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea] exceeds all others in duration, intensity and horror,” Mr Kirby told the ­meeting.

He said the human rights commission he heads wanted the Security Council to adopt targeted sanctions “against those individuals most responsible” and stressed that only the council could launch “immediate, impartial and just action to secure accountability”.

Economic sanctions or a halt to humanitarian aid would harm ordinary citizens, he said.

The United States, France and Australia called the council meeting, which was open to all member states and selected non-governmental organisations.

Mr Kirby told the meeting that up to 120,000 people are imprisoned in North Korea and most “will never leave the camps alive”.

He added: “The gravity, scale, duration and nature of human rights violations that we found reveal a totalitarian state without parallel in the contemporary world.

“Accountability is not optional. It is obligatory.”

North Korea has called the ­report an “extremely dangerous” political provocation.

Mr Kirby called the absence of Russia and China from the meeting unfortunate and said the commission had reached out to both countries to no avail.

Of the 13 other Security Council members who attended the meeting, “nine expressly said the matter should be referred 
to the ICC,” Mr Kirby said, while the other four were not opposed to it.

Peter Wilson, the deputy British ambassador to the UN, told the meeting the UK supported the call for the council to “consider appropriate action including referral of situation in DPRK to ICC”.

Samantha Power, the US ­ambassador to the UN, said: “The commission’s findings and ­recommendations are extraordinarily compelling and deserve the full attention – and action – of the Security Council and of all members of the UN.”

Mr Kirby accused representatives of North Korea of urging member states not to attend the meeting and called the regime “a country that seeks to protect itself from scrutiny by closing itself off from the world. Well, that game is up.”

His speech described a North Korean man whose family was “executed in front of his own eyes but he was permitted no tears” and a woman “who was forced to watch another woman drown her newborn baby.”

He also recalled the execution last year of Mr Kim’s uncle, and said: “If one of the most powerful people in the state can so quickly fall from grace and be killed, imagine the fate of lesser people.” The UN investigator that ­accused North Korea of crimes against humanity has told the Security Council it must take ­action against “a totalitarian state without parallel in the contemporary world”.

Michael Kirby said the abuse perpetrated by the secretive Pyongyang government ­“exceeds all others in duration, intensity and horror”. He and his team have previously said abuses by Kim Jong-un’s regime resemble those of the Nazis.

Mr Kirby – a former judge in Australia who has marked himself out at the UN for his 
no-nonsense style – later said that most council members agreed the matter should be ­referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Human Rights Watch has ­described some of the practices in North Korea as “extraordinarily severe”.

It was the first time the council had met to discuss an ­unprecedented UN report into rights abuses in North Korea that contains graphic details and an urgent call to action.

But despite mounting evidence, China, the reclusive Communist regime’s main ally, did not attend, nor did Russia.

As permanent Security Council members, both hold veto powers which can block sanctions and military force, making any council action against North Korea highly unlikely. 
“We dare say that the case of human rights in the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea] exceeds all others in duration, intensity and horror,” Mr Kirby told the ­meeting.

He said the human rights commission he heads wanted the Security Council to adopt targeted sanctions “against those individuals most responsible” and stressed that only the council could launch “immediate, impartial and just action to secure accountability”.

Economic sanctions or a halt to humanitarian aid would harm ordinary citizens, he said.

The United States, France and Australia called the council meeting, which was open to all member states and selected non-governmental organisations.

Mr Kirby told the meeting that up to 120,000 people are imprisoned in North Korea and most “will never leave the camps alive”.

He added: “The gravity, scale, duration and nature of human rights violations that we found reveal a totalitarian state without parallel in the contemporary world.

“Accountability is not optional. It is obligatory.”

North Korea has called the ­report an “extremely dangerous” political provocation.

Mr Kirby called the absence of Russia and China from the meeting unfortunate and said the commission had reached out to both countries to no avail.

Of the 13 other Security Council members who attended the meeting, “nine expressly said the matter should be referred 
to the ICC,” Mr Kirby said, while the other four were not opposed to it.

Peter Wilson, the deputy British ambassador to the UN, told the meeting the UK supported the call for the council to “consider appropriate action including referral of situation in DPRK to ICC”.

Samantha Power, the US ­ambassador to the UN, said: “The commission’s findings and ­recommendations are extraordinarily compelling and deserve the full attention – and action – of the Security Council and of all members of the UN.”

Mr Kirby accused representatives of North Korea of urging member states not to attend the meeting and called the regime “a country that seeks to protect itself from scrutiny by closing itself off from the world. Well, that game is up.”

His speech described a North Korean man whose family was “executed in front of his own eyes but he was permitted no tears” and a woman “who was forced to watch another woman drown her newborn baby.”

He also recalled the execution last year of Mr Kim’s uncle, and said: “If one of the most powerful people in the state can so quickly fall from grace and be killed, imagine the fate of lesser people.”

 
 
 

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