Human Rights Commissioner calls for inquiry into North Korea abuses

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A woman health worker examines the chest of a malnourished boy at a hospital in the northern city of Huichon. UNICEF

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is calling for international inquiry into what she labels the "deplorable" human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Ms. Pillay recently met with two survivors of the country's political prison camps where it's believed 200,000 people have been locked up for legitimate, peaceful activities such as expressing dissenting opinions.

Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Colville says abuses committed inside the camps "are really mindboggling."

"People are executed just because they say something; people are tortured, women are raped by the guards, babies are born with absolutely no help, no medical help, no extra food, nothing, and the general conditions are atrocious. There's also forced labour—I think you can safely call it slave labour. A lot of the camps are built in areas where there are things like coal mines. The working conditions in those kind of places are extremely dangerous: people die, get killed, and, you know, there's absolutely no redress, there's no inquiry, there is no system to manage what is effectively slave labour."

Duration:  37″

Colville says an inquiry could occur in several ways, including through the establishment of an International Commission of Inquiry or fact-finding mission by the UN Human Rights Council.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration:  1’21

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