U.N. panel condemns North Korea abuses, Pyongyang cites U.S. 'plot'

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 19, 2015 2:51 PM

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A United Nations General Assembly committee on Thursday condemned what it said were rampant and planned human rights abuses in North Korea, but Pyongyang denounced the accusation as a hostile plot organized by the United States and its allies.

The non-binding resolution adopted by the 193-nation assembly's Third Committee, which was drafted by the European Union and Japan, cited "ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights" in North Korea.

It also referred to the findings of a U.N. Human Rights Council commission of inquiry that said rights abuses in North Korea may amount to crimes against humanity.

The Third Committee, which focuses on human rights, also rebuked Pyongyang for not cooperating with the U.N. special rapporteur for North Korea, Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia, and barring him from visiting the country.

North Korea's U.N. mission emailed reporters a statement rejecting the resolution.

"The draft 'resolution' represents a product of political confrontation, plot and conspiracy of the United States and other hostile forces against the DPRK (North Korea) and has no relevance whatsoever with genuine promotion and protection of human rights," it said.

"As a plot document only pursuing ill-minded political objectives, the draft 'resolution' is consistent with all sorts of distortions and fabrications including sheer lies of the so-called 'North Korean defectors'," the statement added.

The resolution was adopted with 112 votes in favor, 19 against and 50 abstentions.

The resolution accused North Korea of torture, use of an extensive system of prison camps, forced transfer of populations, and "all-pervasive and severe restrictions on the freedoms of thought, conscience, religion or belief, opinion and expression."

It urged North Korea to end all human rights abuses.

The North Korean mission dismissed the allegations.

"The government of the DPRK has always been maintaining a policy of taking responsibility for and constantly enhancing the promotion and protection of the human rights of the popular masses," it said.

Countries that voted against the measure included Pyongyang's top ally China, as well as Russia, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Syria and others. A number of those that opposed the resolution said they object to resolutions that single out individual countries for human rights condemnation.

The Third Committee will vote on similar resolutions on Iran and Syria later on Thursday. It adopted one on Myanmar on Wednesday. All four resolutions will be put to new votes in a General Assembly plenary session in December.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; editing by Grant McCool)