Highlights of UN action on North Korean human rights atrocities

Under a UN mandate, former Australian High Court Justice Michael Kirby chaired a year-long inquiry into human rights abuses in the North Korean dictatorship, which has been repressing its people brutally and systematically under all three generations of the Kim family dynasty. (Believe it or not, this was the first time the UN has taken the problem seriously enough to order an official inquiry.)

Pyongyang refused to co-operate so the former High Court judge and his two fellow commissioners, one from Indonesia and the other from Serbia, traveled to various countries and took evidence from about 80 North Korean escapees and expert witnesses.

Their findings were published in February in a massive, 400-page report detailing North Korean atrocities. “The commission finds that the body of testimony and other information it received establishes that crimes against humanity have been committed” in North Korea, said the report.

“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”

They specifically named as a “main perpetrator” the supreme leader himself, Kim Jong Un. Kim, aged approximately 30, has done everything possible to stop Kirby’s report and to avoid its consequences.

When the UN committee for human rights decided to put the Kirby report to a vote so it could go to the UN General Assembly, and then to the UN Security Council for possible referral to the International Criminal Court, North Korea launched into the next phase. It went on a charm offensive. In an effort to head off the vote, the Kim regime freed three American citizens it had had been holding in jail. It signaled that it was open to discussing its nuclear program with the US.

But last week the UN human rights committee cast a strong vote to refer the Kirby report to the UN general assembly, by 111 votes to 19 with 55 abstentions.

This sent Pyongyang into its fury phase. It said the vote compelled it to conduct another nuclear weapons test, which would be its fourth, and threatened nuclear attack on the US and its allies.

[Sydney Morning Herald]

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