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“It is now imperative to pursue criminal accountability of the DPRK leadership” – UN Special Rapporteur

Korean | Japanese

TOKYO (22 January 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Marzuki Darusman, today called on the international community to further all efforts to improve the human rights situation in the country.

“In addition to continuing political pressure to exhort the DPRK to improve human rights, it is also now imperative to pursue criminal responsibility of the DPRK leadership. Not much has changed in the country almost two years after the report of the Commission of Inquiry,” Mr. Darusman said in Tokyo at the end of his last official visit* as a UN Human Rights Council’s independent expert. 

The Special Rapporteur, whose mandate ends in July 2016, was also a member of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK, which issued its report in 2014. Since his appointment in 2010, Mr. Darusman has made several requests to visit DPRK; however, access was never granted. He has been visiting other countries in the region such as Japan, Thailand and the Republic of Korea.

“I regret to say that any act that can be construed as violence against the international community has negative implications on the human rights situation in the DPRK,” the expert said noting that his visit to Japan took place following the latest nuclear test by the North Korean Government.

“Such an act immediately overshadows the continuous efforts by the international community to improve the human rights situation in the DPRK,” said the expert, who stressed that it was all the more important for the international community to step up efforts to engage the DPRK in human rights dialogue while seeking to ensure accountability.

During his five-day mission, Mr. Darusman met with family members of victims of abduction and representatives of civil society organizations. He also met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue, high-level officials from the Cabinet Intelligence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cabinet Headquarters on the Abduction Issues and parliamentarians, as well as officials of the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court and the National Police Agency.

“I am disappointed that there has been no concrete progress since Japan and the DPRK signed a bilateral agreement almost two years ago to work towards a resolution of this issue,” he stressed. “I urge the DPRK to meet their commitment to the agreement and resume actively steps to restore the confidence between Japan and the DPRK.”

During his discussion with family members of victims of abduction and the Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue, the expert recalled that the former Supreme Leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong-il, acknowledged that the country had been involved in abductions of Japanese citizens.

“Such an acknowledgement, without concrete and comprehensive solutions, naturally raises suspicion that the country continues to be involved and implicated in the abductions,” he said. “We are therefore on a clear path and engaged in a just cause to pursue a final settlement of abduction of Japanese nationals, but also possibly of other nationals.”

“Abduction, as a form of enforced disappearance, is a continuous crime, which does not end until the victim’s family learns of the whereabouts of their loved one and, where possible, the survivors are immediately returned to their families,” the expert noted. “Resolving the abduction issue is a matter of urgency. The families of victims are advancing in age.”

The Special Rapporteur underscored that the issue also affects the international community. “Progress on the abduction issue will contribute to the beginning of building trust and good will. Failure to act will undermine any good will that any future engagement might be undertaken with reasonable measures of trust,” he said.
 
“The issue of trust goes to the heart of the obligations of every United Nations Member State to observe the Charter of the United Nations. The DPRK has an obligation to uphold and respect the Charter and international human rights law, exemplary of any full member of the United Nations,” Mr. Darusman concluded.

The Special Rapporteur will report his findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016.

(*) Check Mr. Darusman’s full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16981&LangID=E
 
ENDS

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

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

OHCHR Seoul Office: http://seoul.ohchr.org/EN/Pages/HOME.aspx

For additional information and media requests, please contact in English, Tarek Cheniti (+82 10 5927 8724/ tcheniti@ohchr.org) or in Korean, YounKyo Ahn (+82 10 6607 3595 /yahn@ohchr.org)

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

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