N Korea should face ICC over crimes against humanity: UN probe
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Last Updated: Monday, February 17, 2014, 21:28
  
Geneva: North Korea's leaders should be brought before an international court for a litany of crimes against humanity that include exterminating, starving and enslaving its population, a UN team said on Monday.

A hard-hitting report on the nuclear-armed totalitarian state also strongly criticised its denial of basic freedoms of thought, expression and religion, and its abduction of citizens of neighbouring South Korea and Japan.

"Systemic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, its institutions and officials," said the report by the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea set up in March 2013 by the UN Human Rights Council.

"In many instances, the violations of human rights found by the commission constitute crimes against humanity. These are not mere excesses of the State; they are essential components of a political system that has moved far from the ideals on which it claims to be founded," the report said.

"The gravity, scale and nature of these violations revealed a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world."

North Korea refused to cooperate with the probe, which has claimed the evidence it has used is "fabricated" by "forces hostile" to the country.

Commission chair Michael Kirby wrote to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un -- the third ruler of the communist dynasty founded by his grandfather in 1948 -- to give him a last chance to put his country's side.

In a January 20 letter, reproduced in the report, Kirby told Kim he could face justice personally for the crimes committed by the system he runs.

"Any official of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea who commits, orders, solicits or aids and abets crimes against humanity incurs criminal responsibility by international law and must be held accountable under that law," Kirby wrote.

The report said options included the UN Security Council referring the country to the International Criminal Court or setting up an ad hoc tribunal.

The United States welcomed the report, saying it "clearly and unequivocally documents the brutal reality" of North Korea's abuses.

But Pyongyang's key ally China strongly opposed such a move, saying it would "not help resolve the human rights situation" and that "constructive dialogue" was the answer.

North Korea has long faced international sanctions over its atomic weapons programme, but activists said that justice for its rights record was long overdue.

AFP

First Published: Monday, February 17, 2014, 21:19


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