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DPRK / Human rights: Key report must be sent to UN Security Council, says UN Special Rapporteur

NEW YORK / GENEVA (28 October 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Marzuki Darusman, today urged the UN General Assembly to submit the report by a special commission of inquiry that documents wide-ranging and ongoing crimes against humanity in the country to the Security Council and urge its referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“This would send an unequivocal signal that the international community is determined to take the follow up to the work the commission of inquiry on the DPRK to a new level,” Mr. Darusman said during the presentation of his latest report* to the global body.

The Special Rapporteur held his first ever meeting with DPRK officials on the margins of the General Assembly on Monday 27 October.

“I welcome these signs of increased engagement by the DPRK with the Human Rights Council and international community, and I hope they will bear fruit,” Darusman said. “But these must be premised on a more fundamental acknowledgement of the scale of the problems and must not divert from efforts to ensure the accountability of those responsible.”

In a landmark report submitted in March 2014 to the Human Rights Council, the commission of inquiry concluded that a number of long-standing and ongoing patterns of systematic and widespread violations in North Korea met the high threshold required for crimes against humanity in international law.

Such violations relate to arbitrary detention, torture, executions and prisons camps; violations of the freedoms of thought, expression and religion; discrimination on the basis of State-assigned social class, gender and disability; violations of the freedom of movement and residence; violations of the right to food; and enforced disappearances, including through international abductions and enforced disappearances.

The expert further urged the United Nations system as a whole to follow up the commission of inquiry’s report in a coordinated and unified way, as envisaged in the ‘Rights up Front’ initiative.

“To this end, all relevant parts of the UN system should work to alleviate specific areas of sufferings, as relevant to their mandates, in relation to the aforementioned violations documented by the commission of inquiry and the recommendations accepted during the universal periodic review,” Mr. Darusman said.

The Special Rapporteur welcomed the North Korean authorities active engagement in the second review of the human rights situation in the country carried out by other States in a process known as the ‘universal periodic review.’ He noted that the Government accepted 113 recommendations out of the 268 made, mainly related to the fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights and the protection of women’s and children’s rights.

Mr. Darusman asked the UN General Assembly to request the DPRK to grant access to the UN human rights mechanisms to assist, assess and verify the implementation of such recommendations. However, he noted with deep concern that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea failed to accept any recommendations relating to the findings of the commission of inquiry.

Finally, the expert said he was encouraged by recent moves to reopen the investigation of international abductions and enforced disappearances committed by the DPRK.

“The North Korean authorities should allow all persons who have been abducted or otherwise forcibly disappeared, as well as their descendants, to return immediately to their countries of origin, and speed up the investigation into the fate of those missing in a transparent and verifiable manner,” Darusman said.

(*) Read the Special Rapporteur’s report: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/KP/A-69-Slot-33701.pdf or http://www.ohchr.org/EN/newyork/Pages/HRreportstothe69thsessionGA.aspx

Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by the UN Human Rights Council in August 2010. 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 Mr. Darusman to serve simultaneously on a three-member Commission of Inquiry to investigate and to report on the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in DPRK. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/KP/Pages/SRDPRKorea.aspx

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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Maureen Teo (+41 22 918 9113 / mteo@ohchr.org)

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