UN names team to investigate North Korea secret camps

Images of one alleged camp were screened by the BBC. Picture: Contributed

Images of one alleged camp were screened by the BBC. Picture: Contributed

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THE United Nations has named a team of three human rights investigators to probe allegations of torture and labour camps in North Korea said to hold at least 200,000 people.

Kim Jong-un’s regime denies having such camps and is not expected to co-operate with the investigation, having denounced it during a UN Human Rights Council debate. Last month the BBC screened a Panorama special including images of an alleged labour camp in North Korea.

The one-year inquiry aims to gather enough information from survivors and exiles to document violations that may amount to crimes against humanity for a prosecution case.

“There is sufficient evidence outside North Korea about what is happening inside, so the government can’t keep a lid on it any more. That’s why this investigation is so needed,” said Julie de Rivero of Human Rights Watch. Michael Donald Kirby, a former Australian high court judge, and Sonja Biserko, a founder of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, will join Indonesia’s Marzuki Darusman, its special rapporteur on North Korea, on the team.

The council unanimously passed a resolution proposed by the European Union and Japan, and backed by the United States, to set up the inquiry.

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