Plight of millions in DPR Korea needs focus of global community

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Ivan Šimonović. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz (file)

The plight of millions of people in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, who are subjected to mass human rights violations, needs the continued focus of the international community.

That's according to the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović, who spoke at an event at UN Headquarters which invited North Korean defectors to talk about their experiences.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

Ivan Šimonović said last December was the first time the situation of human rights in DPR Korea had been brought to the Security Council's agenda.

He said it represented a milestone in the years of what he described as "tireless advocacy" for accountability for those responsible for the gravest violations.

The testimonies of those who suffered were the foundation of the work of a commission of inquiry of the UN Human Rights Council, Mr Šimonović explained.

“The commission stated that the DPRK is a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world. It warned that these human rights violations were committed in a widespread, systematic manner, as deliberate policy directed by the highest levels of the government. In many instances, the Commission of Inquiry concluded, these violations constituted crimes against humanity.”

The Assistant Secretary-General added that over the past year, there have been new signs of engagement by DPR Korea, which must be nurtured and built upon.

He noted that for the first time in March, the Foreign Minister attended the Human Rights Council in Geneva to defend his country's record.

In June this year, the Human Rights Office will establish headquarters in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, to help promote accountability with a view to improving human rights in DPR Korea.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’27″

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