Asia Pacific

U.N. experts seek international court ruling on North Korean human rights violations

Kyodo

Two legal experts called on the international community to bring human rights violations by the North Korean government before the International Criminal Court in a report released Thursday ahead of a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

In the report compiled by the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights situation in North Korea, the two experts called “on the international community to continue efforts to seek accountability for crimes against humanity through the International Criminal Court.”

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein named in September 2016 Sonja Biserko of Serbia and Sara Hossain of Bangladesh as part of a team to seek accountability for human rights violations in the isolated country.

The two experts work closely with Tomas Ojea Quintana, who succeeded Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia as special rapporteur on North Korea in August 2016.

Since their appointment, Biserko and Hossain have visited Geneva, The Hague, Seoul, Tokyo and New York to consult with various stakeholders, including scholars of international criminal justice and persons who left North Korea to assess the human rights situation in the country.

The experts also emphasized the need for the international community “to explore the possibility of establishing an ad hoc international tribunal” to rule on Pyongyang’s human rights violations, like those established during the 1990s after the war in the former Yugoslavia and the genocide in Rwanda.

“Investigation and prosecution of serious crimes are indispensable, as are measures to ensure the right of victims and societies to know the truth about violations, the right of victims to reparations, and guarantees of non-recurrence of violations,” they said.

A U.N. commission investigating human rights violations in North Korea suggested in a report released in February 2014 that top government officials — among them leader Kim Jong Un — could be held responsible for crimes against humanity.

The report noted that crimes against humanity, including extermination, enslavement, enforced disappearance and deliberate starvation, had been and are being committed “pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the state,” adding that the scale and gravity of these crimes have no “parallel in the contemporary world.”

The conclusions of the two experts will be presented on March 13 to a regular session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, as an annex to the report of the special rapporteur.