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DPRK: UN expert calls for justice and reconciliation through respect for human rights

SEOUL (15 November 2013) – The time has come for us to look at issues related to North Korean human rights with a perspective that will pave the way for justice and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula, said Marzuki Darusman, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) today in Seoul, the Republic of Korea (RoK).

“The people who are suffering from gross human rights violations in DPRK require immediate attention. This is what my mandate as Special Rapporteur is about,” added the UN human rights expert in a press conference when concluding a three-day visit to ROK.

He pointed out that a Commission of Inquiry, established by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate alleged systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in DPRK, represented a firmer and more concerted approach towards improving human rights in the country.

The three-member Commission, in which Special Rapporteur also served as a member, has been documenting a wide range of rights violations, seeking to determine whether they would constitute crimes against humanity and who or which institutions  should be held accountable.

“But the question is what we will do with the Commission’s findings. It is clear that the primary responsibility to protect the human rights of the North Koreans lies with the DPRK government, which has so far refused to cooperate with my mandate. We must continue to address this,” he said.

”But there are other external factors, such as security concerns, inter-Korean relations, and the regional dynamics around the Peninsula and beyond, that also affect the considerations and the severely rights-restrictive policies of the DPRK leadership.”

“Unless these factors are taken into account, there will be no meaningful steps towards a gradual settlement of the Korean question, which has a direct bearing on the human rights of the people on the Korean peninsula,” said the Special Rapporteur.

Since his appointment in August 2010, the Special Rapporteur has made several requests to visit DPRK; however, access has so far not been granted. He has been visiting other countries in the region such as Japan, Thailand and RoK.

He has used this fact-finding mission to Seoul to better understand any aspects or factors that may impact on inter-Korean relations. Such issues can affect a wide range of human rights, such as the reunification of the hundreds and thousands of separated families on the Korean Peninsula.

During his three-day visit to the Republic of Korea, the Special Rapporteur met with representatives of government ministries, the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee of the National Assembly, civil society and other stakeholders.

Mr. Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in August 2010 by the UN Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organisation and serves in his individual capacity. He has served in a three-member UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and chaired the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka. In March 2013, the Human Rights Council designated Special Rapporteur Darusman to serve simultaneously on a three-member Commission of Inquiry to investigate the systematic, widespread and grave reports of violations of human rights in DPRK. Learn more, log on to:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/KP/Pages/SRDPRKorea.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – DPRK: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/KPIndex.aspx

For additional information and media requests, please contact Esther Lam (+41 22 917 9149 / elam@ohchr.org) or write to hr-dprk@ohchr.org

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