Jan 16 2013
GENEVA — The chief human rights official at the United Nations, Navi Pillay, called on Monday for an international inquiry into human rights offenses committed by the North Korean government over many decades. Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, called for an international inquiry into human rights offenses committed by North Korea.
Ms. Pillay, the Geneva-based high commissioner for human rights, pointed to North Korea’s “elaborate network of political prison camps,” believed by human rights organizations to hold 200,000 prisoners. The camps not only punish people for peaceful activities, but also employ “torture and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment, summary executions, rape, slave labor and forms of collective punishment that may amount to crimes against humanity,” she said.
When Kim Jong-un succeeded his father as the leader of North Korea in December 2011, there was some hope that the change would lead to a relaxation of harsh policies, Ms. Pillay said, but “we see almost no sign of improvement.” Instead, she said, North Korea’s self-imposed isolation had “allowed the government to mistreat its citizens to a degree that should be unthinkable in the 21st century.”
Human rights groups have been lobbying for an international investigation over the past year, and they hope to persuade Japan to sponsor a resolution at the next session of the Human Rights Council in March that would create a commission of inquiry. Both the council and the United Nations General Assembly passed resolutions condemning North Korea in 2012 by consensus, unopposed even by China, the North’s closest ally.
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