A U.N. panel of inquiry started five days of public hearings Tuesday in Seoul on the human rights legacy of the North Korean government.
North Korean defectors in a letter issued from advocacy group Free the NK Gulag said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should be brought before the International Criminal Court.
"We ourselves or our family members were dragged into prisons without trial, we suffered unspeakable torture and humiliation when we were caught while trying to flee North Korea, and we had to witness neighbors and relatives dying while waiting for food rations," a statement published Tuesday by The New York Times said.
Former Australian jurist Michael Kirby led the delegation to Seoul to interview witnesses and North Korean citizens who fled the country. He said the North Korean government refused to grant the panel permission to visit the country.
"The panel decided to take public testimony to help raise international awareness of conditions in the country and because of a lack of response so far by the Pyongyang government," he was quoted as saying Tuesday.