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UN Expert on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea highlights plight of abductees

TOKYO (28 January 2011) – The abduction of Japanese and other nationals by the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is not a bilateral issue but one that should be of concern to the entire international community, according to the UN expert on the DPRK.

At the end of an official visit to Japan, Marzuki Darusman, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, said the abductions had strong links to the human rights conditions in the DPRK and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

“It is incumbent upon the authorities to come out clean and settle this long-standing question of abduction and engage on wider issues of the human rights and humanitarian situation of the people in the DPRK,” Mr. Darusman said.

“For effective resolution of the abduction issue, international criminal liability of those responsible for the abductions cannot be ruled out. As a start, I urge the DPRK to return to promises made during August 2008 to reinvestigate the pending cases.”

Of 17 officially recognised cases of abduction of Japanese nationals by DPRK agents, only five have been returned to Japan. During his visit, from 25 to 28 January, the expert met with a few of the abductees’ famlilies and told of the painful stories they shared.

“Their stories have moved me. I sympathise with them and I pledge that I will follow this matter closely and do everything possible to highlight their case, along with the wider human rights situation in the DPRK, at various international fora,” he said.

Mr. Darusman added that his visits with defectors from the DPRK in Japan reinforced reports of the dire humanitarian situation and the absence of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights for the people.

“This underscores the need to provide humanitiarian aid to the country, subject of course to proper monitoring of its distribution,” he said. “Measures need to be taken by the DPRK to ensure respect for a wide range of its citizens’ human rights.”

The expert met several high-level Japanese officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice, the Minister in charge of abduction issues, the Senior Vice-Minister of Cabinet Office in charge of abduction issues, as well as national and international NGOs, diplomats, UN agencies and others.

“The DPRK cannot afford to find itself in isolation and needs to seize every opportunity to establish dialogue with the international community,” Mr. Darusman said. “I will continue to engage with the DPRK authorities and hope they will change their course and interact with me.”

To check the Special Rapporteur’s end-of-mission full statement and learn more about his mandate and work, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/kp/mandate/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/KPIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
TOKYO: Ms. Yasuko Senoo, UNIC Tokyo's Information Officer (Tel: +81 3 5467 4451 / email:yasuko.senoo@unic.org).
GENEVA (after Monday 31 January): Mr. Ajith Sunghay (Tel: +41 22 928 9353 / email: asunghay@ohchr.org) or write to hr-dprk@ohchr.org.