Security Council asked to assess human rights impact of DPRK sanctions

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Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein (on the screen), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, addresses the Security Council from Paris. Photo: UN/Manuel Elias

The Security Council has been asked to assess the human rights impact of sanctions on humanitarian efforts in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The appeal was made by UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, who briefed ambassadors on Monday.

Matt Wells reports.

The Human Rights High Commissioner outlined some of the severe violations being inflicted on citizens in the DPRK, also known as North Korea.

He said they continue to endure "chronic" food insecurity, partly because resources are diverted to military objectives.

Zeid described the humanitarian assistance provided by UN agencies and other organizations as "literally a life-line" for 13 million vulnerable people, or roughly half the country.

"But sanctions may be adversely affecting this essential help. For example, controls over international banking transfers have caused a slowdown in UN ground operations, affecting the delivery of food rations, health kits and other humanitarian aid. I ask that members of this Council conduct an assessment of the human rights impact of sanctions, and that action be taken to minimize their adverse humanitarian consequences."

The UN human rights chief also reported on testimonies gathered from people who have left the DPRK, which indicate that torture is "widespread" in detention centres.

Furthermore, "there is absolute secrecy" about those detained in five political prison camps in the country, he added.

Zeid said recent military tensions have led to more severe controls over freedom of movement and civil and political rights, with reports of new barriers being erected along the border with South Korea.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'19"

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