Rights experts urge international inquiry into North Korea's right abuses

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Marzuki Darusman

A group of United Nations independent human rights experts on Thursday voiced support for the implementation of an international inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea, which would shed light on the country's extensive political prison camp system, where hundreds of thousands of prisoners and their families are believed to suffer.

The human rights rights experts stressed that reports coming from North Korea are extremely serious and disturbing and that the time has come to shine a light of truth on these allegations by appointing a robust independent international inquiry into the situation.

In October 2012, the group sent a joint allegation letter to the North Korean Government expressing concern and seeking answers to the apparent use of labour camps for political prisoners, also known as kwan-li-so, referred to by some as Gulags. To date, there has been no response from the Government.

The experts said the prison camp system, reportedly in operation since the 1950s, is believed to comprise of at least six camps, each one covering 400 square miles or more: It is estimated that these camps currently hold at least 150,000 prisoners.

"I call on the UN Member States to set up an inquiry into grave, systematic and widespread violations of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and to recommend ways to ensure accountability for possible crimes against humanity," said the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the DPRK, Marzuki Darusman, who will present a detailed report on the human rights situation in the country to the UN Human Rights Council, on 11 March 2013.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’30″

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