UN official: North Korea should face international charges for crimes against humanity
By End the Lie
After the release of a U.N. report documenting widespread, brutal human rights abuses, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on world powers to refer North Korea to the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC).
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In the past, it was reported that some 80 people were publicly executed for crimes ranging from possession of Bibles to watching foreign films. Christians are regularly targeted in the country, forcing outside groups to airdrop Bibles and other literature for the underground Christian community.
U.N. investigators said that North Korean security officials, potentially even Kim Jong-un, could face charges for ordering the systematic torture, starvation and killing of North Koreans.
Officials have said that the abuses are “comparable to Nazi-era atrocities,” according to Reuters.
“We now need strong international leadership to follow up on the grave findings of the Commission of Inquiry,” Pillay said in a statement. “I therefore call on the international community, in line with the report’s recommendations, to use all the mechanisms at its disposal to ensure accountability, including referral to the International Criminal Court.”
Chinese officials have already harshly criticized the report, saying that it is “unreasonable criticism.”
The New York Times pointed out that this criticism may mean that Beijing will move to leverage their veto power in the United Nations Security Council to block any potential action.
“We believe that politicizing human rights issues is not conducive toward improving a country’s human rights,” said Hua Chunying, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. “We believe that taking human rights issues to the International Criminal Court is not helpful to improving a country’s human rights situation.”
However, CNN pointed out that China said they would not allow human rights charges to move forward in the ICC before the report was even released.
Unsurprisingly, the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea completely rejected the report.
“It is nothing more than an instrument of political plot aimed at sabotaging the socialist system by defaming the dignified images of the DPRK and creating an atmosphere of international pressure under the pretext of ‘human rights protection,’” the government said in a statement.
The report detailed some quite horrific practices, including the killing of “hundreds of thousands” of people since the 1950s.
The Washington Post notes that the killings do not technically meet the definition of genocide, since they kill people for their beliefs, not along national, ethnic, racial or religious lines.
Michael Donald Kirby, a retired Australian judge who was the head of the panel, said that there have been far too many UN reports and not enough action.
“Well, now is a time for action. We can’t say we didn’t know,” Kirby said.
Kirby spoke to reporters in Geneva on Monday, saying that he hopes the report will spur the international community to actually take action.
“I hope that the international community will be moved by the detail, the amount, the long duration, the great suffering and the many tears that have existed in North Korea to act on the crimes against humanity,” he said.
The 400-page report, based on interviews with over 320 witnesses, survivors and experts over nearly a year, was released on Monday.
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