UN expert urges General Assembly to refer DPR Korea rights report to International Criminal Court

Special Rapporteur Marzuki Darusman. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

28 October 2014 – A United Nations human rights expert called on the General Assembly today to refer a UN-mandated report documenting wide-ranging and ongoing crimes against humanity in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Presenting his latest report to the General Assembly committee dealing with human rights issues (Third Committee), Marzuki Darusman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, further urged the General Assembly to submit a separate report from the Commission of Inquiry set up to probe the human righst situation in the country, to the Security Council.

Further, he said that he UN system as a whole should follow up the Commission of Inquiry’s report in a “coordinated and unified way,” as envisaged in the Human Rights up Front initiative, which seeks to prevent genocide and human rights violations.

“This would send an unequivocal signal that the international community is determined to take the follow up to the work of the Commission of inquiry on the DPRK to a new level,” Mr. Darusman said, who als serves as a member of that panel.

The 400-page report was released in February by the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK, which was established by the Human Rights Council in March 2013. Documenting in great detail the rights violations committed in the country, the report called for urgent action to address the human rights situation, including referral to the ICC.

Noting that he held his first-ever meeting with DPRK officials on the margins of the General Assembly today, Mr. Darusman said that all relevant parts of the UN system “should work to alleviate specific areas of sufferings, as relevant to their mandates, in relation to the aforementioned violations documented by the commission of inquiry and the recommendations accepted during the universal periodic review.”

Welcoming what he called the “active engagement” of DPRK authorities in the second review of the human rights situation in the country carried out by other States – known as the “universal periodic review,” he acknowledged that the Government had accepted 113 recommendations out of the 268 made.

The accepted recommendations mainly relate to the fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the protection of women’s and children’s rights.

“I welcome these signs of increased engagement by the DPRK with the Human Rights Council and international community, and I hope they will bear fruit,” Mr. Darusman said.

He stressed, however, that he was deeply concerned that the DPRK has failed to accept any recommendations relating to the findings of the Commission of Inquiry .

Any efforts by the DPRK to engage with the international community should be premised on a more fundamental acknowledgement of the problems, and must not “divert from efforts to ensure the accountability of those responsible,” he added.

During his presentation, Mr. Darusman also asked the General Assembly to request that the DPRK grant access to the UN human rights mechanisms to assist, assess and verify the implementation of the recommendations.

Additionally, he said he was encouraged by recent moves to reopen the investigation of international abductions and enforced disappearances committed by the DPRK.

“The…authorities should allow all persons who have been abducted or otherwise forcibly disappeared, as well as their descendants, to return immediately to their countries of origin, and speed up the investigation into the fate of those missing in a transparent and verifiable manner,” Mr. Darusman stressed.

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