A U.N. panel warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he may be held accountable for orchestrating widespread crimes against civilians in the secretive Asian nation, ranging from executing and torturing prisoners to systematic abductions and starving mass populations.
It is unusual for a U.N. report to directly implicate a nation’s leader. But in a letter accompanying a yearlong investigative report, the chairman of a three-member U.N. commission of inquiry, retired Australian judge Michael Kirby, directly warned Kim that that international prosecution is needed “to render accountable all those, including possibly yourself, who may be responsible for crimes against humanity.”
“Even without being directly involved in crimes against humanity, a military commander may be held responsible for crimes against humanity committed by forces under the commander’s effective command and control,” Kirby wrote.
The investigative commission’s 372-page report is a wide-ranging indictment of North Korea for policies including political prison camps, state-sponsored abductions of North Korean, Japanese and other nationals, and lifelong indoctrination.
Kirby also wrote to China’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva saying there’s evidence that Chinese officials have in some cases shared with North Korean officials “information about the contacts and conduct” of North Korean nationals subject to repatriation. The ambassador, Wu Haitao, replied to the panel and denied that repatriated North Korean citizens from China face torture in North Korea. He added that China “will continue to prudently and properly handle” North Korean citizens who enter China illegally.