UN General Assembly Committee Condemns Human Rights Abuses in N. Korea
Margaret Besheer | United Nations 18 November 2010
The U.N. General Assembly committee that deals with human rights issues adopted separate resolutions on Thursday condemning widespread human rights abuses in North Korea and Burma.
The General Assembly's Third Committee, which works on a range of social, humanitarian and human rights issues, adopted resolutions by wide margins condemning human rights violations in Burma and North Korea.
On Burma, which also is known as Myanmar, the resolution welcomed the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and urged without further delay or pre-conditions the release of the 2,100 other prisoners of conscience who remain in Burmese detention.
But the resolution noted with regret that the November 7 elections - the first in Burma in 20 years - were not free, fair, transparent or inclusive. It detailed a lengthy list of human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, rape, torture, the abuse of ethnic minorities, forced displacements and the recruitment of child soldiers.
Burma's U.N. Ambassador Than Swe told the committee that the resolution is "seriously flawed" and "unbalanced," saying that its findings are based on the hearsay and the accusations of opposition groups.
"Its real intention apparently is to impose political pressure on Myanmar, under the pretext of human rights," said Than Swe.
The resolution was adopted with 96 votes in favor, 28 against and 60 abstentions. China and Russia cast "no" votes, saying the resolution might send the wrong message to Burmese authorities after the election and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.
North Korea's human rights record also came under sharp criticism. The resolution - adopted with 103 votes in favor, 18 against and 60 abstentions - expressed very serious concern at reports of widespread rights violations, including torture, public executions, collective punishments, forced labor, the large number of prison camps, and the absence of due process and the rule of law. The committee called on Pyongyang to end violations against women - including their forced trafficking for prostitution, forced abortions and gender-based violence.
The committee also criticized North Korea's continued refusal to cooperate with the U.N.'s independent human rights expert, known as the Special Rapporteur.
North Korea's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Pak Tok Hun dismissed the resolution.
"The Delegation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea - the DPRK [North Korea] - categorically rejects the draft resolution presented by the EU and Japan as an outcome of political plots of the United Sates and its followers, and as an illegal document infringing upon the sovereignty of the DPRK," said Pak Tok Hun.
The committee also adopted a resolution condemning human rights violations in Iran.
Many of the countries that voted against or abstained during the three votes said that they felt the Human Rights Council in Geneva is the appropriate venue for such issues. They also objected to what they called the "targeting" of specific countries for criticism of their human rights records.
The committee vote must now be approved at a plenary session of the General Assembly, where its adoption is virtually assured.
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