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DPRK: “Achieving accountability is paramount,” UN expert says ahead of General Assembly’s key vote

(See statement in English and Korean below*)

SEOUL / GENEVA (14 November 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Marzuki Darusman, said the issue of accountability of those responsible for crimes against humanity in the country remains at the top of the agenda.

“Let me be very clear: achieving accountability is paramount,” Mr. Darusman said in Seoul at the end of an official visit* to the Republic of Korea. The expert’s comments come a few days before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly votes on a resolution which aims at submitting the report of the commission of inquiry to the Security Council for a possible referral of the human rights situation in the DPRK to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Two weeks ago, the expert met for the first time a delegation of senior DPRK officials who invited him to undertake a full-fledged country visit, under the condition that all references to accountability of the North Korean Supreme Leader and possible referral to the ICC contained in the draft resolution on the situation of human rights situation in DPRK be removed.

“I should be invited to visit DPRK without any preconditions and irrespective of the adoption of the resolution,” the Special Rapporteur underscored. “From here on, it is important to already think of preparing the ground for accountability processes.”

Mr. Darusman noted that the combined pressures and scrutiny the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council have opened new possibilities of dialogue with the DPRK which may eventually lead to changes in the country.

“I believe a two-track approach should be taken,” the expert stated, “ensuring accountability of those responsible for serious human rights violations, and providing technical assistance to help make a difference in the lives of the people of North Korea, including victims.”

“The ultimate goal is to create a peaceful and stable situation in the Korean peninsula,” the Special Rapporteur underlined. “When reunification eventually takes place, addressing accountability for human rights violations can only make a positive contribution towards achieving this ultimate objective.”

The expert also expressed concern, inter alia, on the issue of abductions of South Korean nationals by North Korea, and of North Korean workers sent abroad and reportedly subjected by North Korea to forced labour.

During his five-day visit to the RoK, the expert met with senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Unification, the Office for National Security, the National Intelligence Service; members of the Human Rights Forum and the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee of the National Assembly; the Mayor of Seoul; representatives of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, non-governmental organizations and the diplomatic community.

The information the Special Rapporteur will gather during his mission to RoK will be reflected in his report to the Human Rights Council in March 2015.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s end-of-mission statement
English: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15293&LangID=E
Korean: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/KP/SRon_DPRK_press_statement_14.11.14_KOR.pdf

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

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Read the commission of inquiry’s report: http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/hrc/coidprk/pages/commissioninquiryonhrindprk.aspx

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

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For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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