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UN expert appeals to DPR Korea to launch investigation into abduction of Japanese

28 January 2009 – An independent United Nations human rights expert has called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to initiate a serious investigation into its abduction of Japanese citizens in the late-1970s and early-1980s.

Of the 17 people officially listed as seized by the DPRK, five have returned to Japan, and the DPRK states that of the remaining 12, eight have died and four never entered the country.

“The DPRK must, as it agreed, establish a credible committee to investigate the abductions issue,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, Vitit Muntarbhorn, said in a statement issued during a five-day visit to Japan which ended today.

Mr. Muntarbhorn stressed that DPRK authorities must find the surviving Japanese citizens it snatched from Niigata, a coastal Japanese prefecture facing the DPRK, and return them to their homeland.

During his trip, his fourth to Japan, Mr. Muntarbhorn sought to assess the impact of the DPRK’s human right situation on Japan, and met with the Foreign Minister, and a variety of governmental and non-governmental representatives, as well as some of the families of the abducted.

His talks with the families were “of particular importance,” and he expressed his “heartfelt sympathy to them in regard to the torment caused by the crimes committed by the DPRK against their loved ones.”

The Special Rapporteur also voiced concern over the stalled talks on DPRK’s nuclear enrichment programme.

He expressed hope, however, that the six-party talks – which include China, DPRK, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States – aimed at achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner would make concrete progress in the near future.

“Positive developments on this front can pave the way for possible human rights improvements in the country.”

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