The Permanent Missions of Australia, Botswana, and Panama co-organized a panel discussion on the human rights situation in the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, featuring the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK (COI). Kim Hye-Sook and Jung Kwang-Il gave statements on the “systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations” in political prisoner camps.
Representing the Commission of Inquiry, Justice Michael Kirby delivered a keynote speech. He, and later the representatives of Canada and the U.S., asserted the transparency of the COI’s 2013 Report on Human Rights in the DPRK. The report aimed to disclose North Korea’s “crimes against humanity” and the need for tribunal in the International Criminal Court. Though acknowledging the DPRK’s recent willingness for engagement, Justice Kirby requested a show of action in which, the DPRK makes the report available to its citizens and allows international machineries to enter the country.
Former North Korean citizen Kim Hye-Sook described the deplorable health and education conditions in labor camps. Former North Korean Jung Kwang-Il described the nine months of severe torture he endured in a prisoner camp, and the lasting physical and psychological damage.
The representative of the DPRK questioned the COI report’s “nature of political plots”, its use of leading questions, and the report’s assumptions of the DPRK’s legal handling of human rights. Justice Kirby assured the use of non-leading questions and lack of political motivation by directing the representative towards the online interview transcripts. Despite Kirby’s request, the representative of the DPRK denounced Kim Jung and other witnesses, as defectors.
The European Union and Japan mentioned a resolution based on the COI report, to soon be presented to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. Botswana supported their resolution, having broken diplomatic ties with the DPRK upon release of the COI report.
Meeting: Panel discussion on “The Human Rights Situation in North Korea”
Location: Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 22 October 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Alis Yoo
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon