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North Korea rights abuses rampant: U.N. expert

North Korea rights abuses rampant: U.N. expert

Human rights abuses are rampant in North Korea, ranging from torture of prisoners to keeping food aid away from starving citizens, a U.N. expert on the country said Wednesday.
Speaking to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Vitit Muntarbhorn described numerous rights abuses, including repression of political dissidents, censoring of news media, restriction of movement within the country and alarming conditions in prisons. North Korea's judicial system is "heavily influenced by the regime in power," he added.
Muntarbhorn, a Thai specialist in human rights law, said North Korean authorities had never allowed him to visit the country since he was appointed in 2004 by the former U.N. Human Rights Commission to monitor the situation. The council replaced the commission last June.
But he said he had seen "reports of a wide range of detention centers and prisons with appalling conditions and use of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, despite a ban on such practices under the country's law."
Muntarbhorn said he welcomed "the latest news that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is allowing now some of the foreign aid distribution to resume," but that the authorities' expulsion of many foreign aid agencies last year deprived starving North Koreans of essential food distribution.
Severe food shortages affecting the country since the mid 1990s are "mainly due to natural disasters and mismanagement on the part of the authorities," he said, adding that missile tests in July 2006 worsened the situation because they led "various contributors of humanitarian aid to discontinue providing that aid."
Muntarbhorn told the 47-member council that Pyongyang's refusal to allow him to visit was part of a general failure to cooperate with the U.N.
"I've been sending a number of communications to the DPRK authorities, particularly to request humane treatment of prisoners," he said. "To date the authorities of the country have been uncooperative in regard to these communications."
"The DPRK delegation categorically and resolutely rejects the report," Choe Myong Nam, counselor of North Korea's mission to the U.N. in Geneva, told the members of the council.
Choe said the mandate of the U.N. monitor "is an outcome of conspiracy by such forces as the United States, Japan and European Union constantly perpetrating hostilities against DPRK for more than half a century," and the "domination of the whole Korean peninsular remains a prerequisite of the U.S. strategy toward Asia."


Updated : 2021-10-22 16:14 GMT+08:00