North Korea’s leaders should be brought before an international court for a series of crimes against humanity, including murder, enslavement, torture, rape and starvation, said U.N. team that has been investigating North Korea since last March.
The commission that was headed by retired Australian judge Michael Kirby, detailed drastic violations committed by the country, including crimes against humanity, and even named North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a possible perpetrator, in a 372-page report released Monday.
“In many instances, the violations of human rights found by the commission constitute crimes against humanity,” said the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea report. “The gravity, scale and nature of these violations revealed a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
The 400-page report, which included shocking testimony from 300 victims and witnesses, reveals “the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation”. It depicts North Korea as a place that “displays many attributes of a totalitarian state” with “almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”
The report condemned a system of throwing generations of the same family into prison camps under guilt-by-association rules, given testimony from former guards, inmates and neighbors. It estimated that there are 80,000-120,000 political prisoners in North Korea, a nation of 24 million people.
One of the testimonies was made by Shin Dong-hyuk, who gave harrowing accounts of his life and escape from a prison camp. As a 13-year-old, he informed a prison guard of a plot by his mother and brother to escape and both were executed, according to a book on his life called “Escape from Camp 14”.
“Testimony was given… in relation to the political prison camps of large numbers of people who were malnourished, who were effectively starved to death and then had to be disposed of in pots burned and then buried… it was the duty of other prisoners in the camps to dispose of them,” the former High Court judge said.
The report includes a December 16 letter from chairman Kirby to China’s ambassador in Geneva, Wu Haitao, urging him to “caution relevant officials that such conduct on their part could amount to the aiding and abetting (of) crimes against humanity”.
Wu’s reply, dated December 30, said North Koreans enter China illegally for economic reasons and some are engaged in “criminal acts such as theft, robbery, illegal harvesting”. Some North Koreans repeatedly enter China illegally, demonstrating that the allegation that repatriated citizens face torture is “not true”, Wu’s letter said.
The report’s authors include a letter they penned to Kim Jong-un, informing him that they’ve recommended the United Nations bring North Korea’s violations to the International Criminal Court to face charges. The letter says Kim himself could face charges for these crimes.
Of course, North Korea “categorically and totally” rejected the accusations set out in a horrifying report, saying they were based on material faked by hostile forces backed by the United States, the European Union and Japan.
The United States welcomed the report, saying it “clearly and unequivocally documents the brutal reality” of North Korea’s abuses, while Seoul said it hoped the findings would raise international awareness, writes Reuters.