UN names team to investigate North Korea secret camps

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.

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

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.

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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.