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Making DPRK accountable for human rights violations

31 March 2016

“The role of the international community is crucial for the people of North Korea,” said Marzuki Darusman, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “The concern … gives hope to those people inside the country that have their rights violated. The concern of the international community holds hope that the situation will change fundamentally.”

Darusman presented his report on the DPRK to the 31st session of the Human Rights Council this week, highlighting the continuing “horrendous” human rights situation for people living there. Political prison camps, incarceration of whole families because of the allegation against one member, torture and other violations continue with impunity, he told the council.

“This is a matter of political and legal accountability of those responsible for these serious crimes, including the Supreme Leader, Mr Kim Jong-Un,” he said.

To this end, Darusman has proposed a three-member group of experts be appointed to look into the international legal dimensions of criminal accountability and make recommendations how to ensure the accountability of those responsible for gross violations of human rights in the country, including those amounting crimes against humanity.

This report was Darusman’s last to the Council, as his six-year tenure comes to an end. There have been a number of challenges, including an inability to enter the DPRK and an initial scepticism about the ability of the position to make any difference to the human rights situation in the country, he said.

But the mandate has been able to make a difference, he said. Along with the Commission of Inquiry into the DPRK, the country’s human rights situation has now become the focus of international attention. In addition, the commission of inquiry’s report on human rights violations is now with the UN Security Council, the UN’s highest political body, he said. This could lead to a possible referral of DPRK to the International Criminal Court.

“So, if there is any satisfaction that has come from discharging this mandate, it has been to make the DPRK fully the focus of international concern regarding its horrendous human rights violations,” Darusman said.

You can hear more of Darusman’s comments on DPRK in the video below.

31 March 2016