The United Nations on Tuesday named a team of three human rights investigators who will look into allegations of torture and labor camps in North Korea, that are believed to hold at least 200,000 people.
The one-year inquiry, launched by the Council on March 21, hopes to gather enough information from camp survivors and other exiles to document violations that it says may amount to crimes against humanity and build a case for future prosecution. Activists hope the investigation, which is due to produce a preliminary report in September, will help expose decades of abuse by North Korea’s reclusive government.
Michael Donald Kirby, a former justice of Australia’s High Court, and Sonja Biserko, a founder of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, are to join Indonesia’s Marzuki Darusman, its current special rapporteur on North Korea, on the team, to be backed by researchers, lawyers and forensic experts.
The U.N. Human Rights Council unanimously passed a resolution brought by the European Union and Japan, and backed by the United States, which set up the inquiry and condemned alleged North Korean torture, food deprivation and labor camps.
Pyongyang denies the existence of such camps and is not expected to cooperate with the investigation, having denounced it during a U.N. Human Rights Council debate, activists said.