Yesterday, both the Japanese and the United States government called on the United Nations Human Rights forum to begin an inquiry into alleged violations of political prisoners in North Korea. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said last month that North Korea’s prison camps are believed to have at least 200,000 people, who are subjected to abuses such as rape, torture, executions and slave labor. She has already called for an international body to step up and check on what could be crimes against humanity in “one of the worst – but least understood and reported – human rights situations in the world.” North Korea has since denied said allegations.
On Monday, the beginning of the four-week session of the Human Rights Council, Japan’s parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs Toshiko Abe said in a speech that Japan and the European Union will submit a joint resolution to seek an investigation on the matter. He said that if support from the international community would be obtained, it would send a strong message to North Korea. Theoretically, findings of international investigators may provide legal grounds for the U.N. Security Council to refer the reclusive country to the International Criminal Court. But,China would probably veto such a referral.
Also, U.S. assistant secretary of state Esther Brimmer supported this call for an investigation by the 47-member state Geneva forum. According to her, “The council’s work remains unfinished so long as millions of North Koreans face untold human rights abuses amidst a daily struggle for survival.” While the forum already previously appointed a special investigator on North Korea, Indonesian lawyer Marzuki Darusman, he himself said that a wider inquiry was necessary to examine personal and institutional accountability for the abuses that had been done.