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U.N. Committee Criticizes Human Rights Situation in North Korea

17 November 2005

Resolution calls on North Korea to cooperate with U.N. human rights officials

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The General Assembly's Third Committee dealing with human rights issues November 17 expressed serious concern over the situation in North Korea and called on the government to cooperate with U.N. human rights officials.

The committee, also known as the social and humanitarian committee, approved a European Union-drafted resolution on North Korea by a vote of 84-22, with 62 abstentions.  All 191 U.N. member states are on the committee.  The resolution will be sent to a plenary session of the General Assembly later in the year.  The plenary usually accepts the vote of the committee.

The United States has singled out North Korea as one of the world’s worst violators of human rights.

At a press conference in Washington November 9, Julieta Noyes of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor said the North Korean regime "remains the most oppressive in the world, denying its people the most basic freedoms of religion, conscience and speech, assembly and association." (See related article.)

"People are totally barred from changing their government through elections and many people just choose to leave, become refugees, in order to escape from the situation," Noyes said.

The United States was one of 36 co-sponsors of the resolution.

The resolution expressed "serious concern" about continuing reports of systemic, widespread and grave violations of human rights in North Korea.  Those violations include torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; extrajudicial and arbitrary detention; the absence of due process; and the imposition of sanctions on citizens who have been repatriated from abroad.

It expressed concern over North Korea's "all-pervasive and severe restrictions on the freedoms of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association and on equal access to information, and limitations imposed on every person who wishes to move freely within the country and travel abroad."

The resolution also expressed concern that the government has not cooperated with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and has refused to cooperate with the Commission on Human Rights' special rapporteur.

For more information, see U.S. Policy Toward North Korea and Human Rights.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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