Geneva: A UN human rights investigator has called for sustained international action to put pressure on North Korea as part of a multi-pronged strategy to know the fate of hundreds of foreign nationals allegedly abducted by it over several decades.
Marzuki Darusman, the UN Special Rapporteur mandated to investigate the abductions and forced disappearances, laid out the strategy in a report to the UN Human Rights Council UNHRC yesterday.
In the report, Darusman called for "sustained and resolute action" by the international community aimed at "shedding light on all cases of abductions" and returning those still alive to their countries of origin.
"The Special Rapporteur proposes a multi-track strategy which combines outreach to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea at the bilateral level on different fronts, while maintaining pressure at the international level," said the report, which will be up for debate at the 47-member forum of the HRC on March 16.
Darusman said that ASEAN and EAS are important venues for "developing common actions on human rights issues...Such as international abductions, enforced disappearances."
ASEAN, a political and economic organisation of ten Southeast Asian countries, comprises Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a forum held annually by leaders of 18 countries including the US and Russia.
Darusman, a former Indonesian prosecutor general, said the rights issues "have had a negative impact on the regional security situation."
Darusman said that North Korean agents had abducted "hundreds of nationals from South Korea, Japan and other countries between the 1960s and 1980s."
He supported the recommendations of a commission of inquiry (CoI) on North Korea, and said the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague was "competent for prosecuting these perpetrators".
The North Korean issue is on the UN Security Council agenda but has not been referred to the ICC yet.
The CoI, which was headed by former Australian judge Michael Kirby, had released its report a year ago and had compared the abuses in North Korea to Nazi-era atrocities.
It stated that since 1950, North Korea has "engaged in the systematic abduction, denial of repatriation and subsequent enforced disappearance of persons from other countries on a large scale and as a matter of State policy."
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong had called the Kirby report an "act of cooking up" based on the lies of a few defectors.