U.N. envoy vows to press North on abductions

by Masami Ito

A special rapporteur for the United Nations on human rights in North Korea urged Pyongyang on Friday to resolve the long-standing abduction issue and deal with wider matters relating to humanitarian and human rights regarding its people.

Marzuki Darusman, former attorney general of Indonesia, made his first official visit to Japan as special rapporteur this week.

During the four-day visit he met with various government leaders and officials, including Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and Justice Minister Satsuki Eda, as well as relatives of Japanese abductees and defectors from North Korea.

At a news conference hosted by the Japan National Press Club, Darusman stressed the importance of addressing the abduction issue multilaterally because it affects other countries as well, including South Korea, Lebanon and Thailand. He added that the possibility of holding the abductors criminally accountable should not be ruled out.

“I stress that the question of abductions is not only a bilateral issue between Japan and the DPRK (North Korea), but one that concerns the international community at large and one that has strong links to the human rights situation in the DPRK,” Darusman said.

“For an effective resolution of the abduction issue, international criminal liability of those responsible for the abductions cannot be ruled out.”

Darusman, who was appointed to his U.N. position in August, is set to submit a report on the North Korean human rights situation in March. But the hermit state has refused to let Darusman into the country, so he has been visiting the surrounding countries to gather information.

“The DPRK . . . needs to seize every opportunity to establish dialogue with the international community,” Darusman said.

“I will continue to engage with the DPRK authorities with the hope that the authorities will change their course and interact with me as the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the DPRK.”