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UN urged to try Kim Jong-un for rights abuses

21 February 2014


Accused: the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, waves to people during a parade in Pyongyang

Accused: the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, waves to people during a parade in Pyongyang

AN INTERNATIONAL Christian-rights group has urged the United Nations to refer North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un, to the International Criminal Court, after a UN investigation accused the country of human-rights abuses on an almost inconceivable scale.

The chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas, said: "The UN and all member states now have a responsibility to act upon the recommendations of the commission of inquiry, and ensure that this report does not sit on a shelf, but serves as a plan of action to end the suffering of the North Korean people and hold the perpetrators of crimes against humanity to account.

"The world's worst human-rights crisis, in the world's most closed nation, can no longer be its most forgotten. From this day on, no one can claim they did not know. The world now knows, and it is now time to act."

The commission's report says that the regime "considers the spread of Christianity a particularly severe threat", and, as a result, "Christians are prohibited from practising their religion, and are persecuted." Severe punishments are inflicted on people caught practising Christianity.

It goes on: "There is an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience,and religion, as well as the rightsto freedom of opinion, expres-sion, information, and association."

State surveillance permeates private lives, and virtually no expression critical of the political system goes undetected.

The commission finds that "the gravity, scale, and nature" of the violations of human rights "reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world".

Its 400-page report, based on first-hand testimony, tells of "unspeakable atrocities". It details crimes against humanity, including "extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial, and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons, and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation".

Violations of the rights to food and to freedom of movement have resulted in women and girls' becoming vulnerable to trafficking and forced sex-work outside the country. Many flee, mainly to China, "despite the high chance that they will be apprehended and forcibly repatriated, then subjected to persecution, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, and, in some cases, sexual violence.

"Repatriated women who are pregnant are regularly subjected to forced abortions, and babies born to repatriated women are often killed," the report stated.

An estimated 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners are currently detained in four political prison camps, where "deliberate starvation has been used as a means of control and punishment."

The report's recommendations include targeted sanctions, an extension of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in North Korea, and the establishment of a UN-mandated structure and database "to help to ensure accountability".

It also calls on China to end the forcible repatriation of North Korean refugees.


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