Mon, Mar 30, 2015 - Page 4 News List

UN slams N Korea over abductions of foreigners

‘SYSTEMATIC’:The UN report also denounced North Korea’s ‘denial of repatriation and subsequent enforced disappearance of persons’ from at least 12 countries

AFP, GENEVA, Switzerland

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday harshly criticized North Korea for the “systematic abduction” of foreigners, after a UN investigation found the nation had snatched up to 200,000 foreign nationals.

However, the 47-member rights body’s resolution was slammed by North Korean ambassador Ri Hyung-sik, who said it was a “political plot filled with frauds and distortions.”

The adopted text decried North Korea’s “systematic abduction, denial of repatriation and subsequent enforced disappearance of persons, including those from other nations, on a large scale and as a matter of state policy.”

A UN-mandated investigation issued a searing report in February last year accusing North Korea of committing human rights violations “without parallel in the contemporary world,” including the abductions of an estimated 200,000 foreign nationals from at least 12 nations.

Most of them were South Koreans left stranded after the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, but hundreds of others from around the world have since been taken or disappeared while visiting the secretive state.

The number of Japanese citizens believed to have been taken to train North Korean spies in Japanese language and customs are now estimated “in the hundreds,” the UN’s top investigator on the rights situation in North Korea, Marzuki Darusman, told reporters last week.

Darusman, whose mandate was extended for another year by Friday’s resolution, has called for international community to resolve the fate of the abductees, and to refer the perpetrators to the International Criminal Court.

Pyongyang agreed in May last year to reinvestigate the cases of Japanese nationals kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s in return for Tokyo lifting sanctions against the secretive state. Friday’s resolution said it was “expecting concrete and positive results” from that probe.

The resolution also condemned the “long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations committed in ... North Korea.”

It called on Pyongyang to acknowledge the crimes, including suspected “crimes against humanity” and to “take immediate steps” to end all violations, and urged the international community to help bring those responsible to justice.

North Korea “is among the world’s most pervasive deniers of freedoms and violators of human rights,” US ambassador Keith Harper told the council.

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