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UN Rights Expert Recommends Probe of N.Korean Abuses

March 12, 2013

by VOA News

A United Nations-appointed human rights authority is recommending an international inquiry into violations in North Korea, which he says may amount to crimes against humanity.

In a report Monday to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Marzuki Darusman said a formal human rights investigation would help pressure Pyongyang to improve conditions, thought to be among the worst in the world.

"While usually not sufficient, in and by itself, to end crimes against humanity, increased scrutiny by international inquiry affords a measure of protection - especially when coupled with the prospect of future criminal investigations and the deterrent effect such a prospect may have on individual perpetrators," said Darusman.

Darusman, an Indonesian lawyer, says conditions in North Korea have worsened since Kim Jong Un took power in the country following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.

The report describes "systematic and widespread" abuses - including murder, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, political and religious persecution and enforced disappearances.

North Korea's delegate at the Geneva-based council, Choi Seokyoung, denies the allegations, saying the report was part of a Western-led conspiracy against his government.

"His report is a copy of faked material on the human rights situation in my country, fabricated and invented by the hostile forces, defectors and other rebels. It is nothing more than an instrument of political plot aimed at sabotaging my socialist system by defaming the dignified image of the DPRK and creating an atmosphere of international pressure under the pretext of human rights protection," stated Seokyoung.

Support for a U.N. inquiry has been mounting, partly because Russia and China - traditional North Korean allies - have rotated out of the human rights council. The United States and Japan have already voiced support for an international inquiry.

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