, GENEVA, Feb 18 – North Korea’s leaders should be brought before an international court for a litany of crimes against humanity, including mass murder, enslavement and starvation, a UN team said Monday.
A hard-hitting report detailed “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence” in the nuclear-armed totalitarian state.
“In many instances, the violations of human rights found by the commission constitute crimes against humanity,” said the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea report.
“The gravity, scale and nature of these violations revealed a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
The 400-page report, which included shocking testimony from North Koreans who escaped, highlighted “the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation”.
The commission was created in March 2013 by the UN Human Rights Council. Its chair Michael Kirby said ignorance was no longer an excuse for a failure to act.
“At the end of the Second World War, so many people said ‘If only we had known’,” he told reporters.
“Now the international community does know,” he said, adding, “the suffering and the tears of the North Korean people demand action.”
Kirby said talking to people who had escaped – including an ex-prisoner whose duties including burning starvation victims and scattering their ash as fertiliser – made the wartime analogy brutally clear.
“I can see many parallels between the story of North Korea and the story of the Axis powers in the Second World War,” he said.
North Korea refused to cooperate with the commission, claiming its evidence was “fabricated” by “hostile” forces.
Denied access to North Korea, the commission held hearings in South Korea and Japan with 320 North Korean exiles.
A frustrated Kirby wrote to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un – the third ruler of the communist dynasty founded by his grandfather in 1948 – on January 20 asking him to put his side.
Kirby told Kim that any North Korean official who “commits, orders, solicits or aids and abets crimes against humanity” is responsible and must be held accountable.