UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- North Korea should be brought before the International Criminal Court for its human rights violations, the United Nations chief investigator said.
Michael Kirby, retired Australian judge and chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea, forcefully recommended to the Security Council Wednesday that North Korea -- including its leader, Kim Jong Un -- must be held accountable for crimes against humanity.
Kirby later referred to recent overtures, including an admission by North Korean Foreign Ministry official Choe Myong Nam of the existence of "reform through labor" detention camps and the release of American Jeffrey Fowle from prison as a "charm offensive."
"The question that is before the United Nations now is when we face such a moment of truth, will the United Nations back away because of the steps belatedly taken by North Korea in recent weeks? And my hope is the answer to that question will be no. We don't back away. We stand for the principles of the United Nations and we expect accountability for great crimes before justice. And that is the right of the people of North Korea," Kirby said.
The Security Council meeting came after the European Union and Japan condemned North Korea and encouraged other countries to support the idea of an International Criminal Court trial. A decision on the matter will be made by the United Nations next month.
A U.N. Commission of Inquiry issued a report in February, blaming North Korea for murder, torture, enslavement and rape, mostly in prisons camps where tens of thousands of people are believed to be incarcerated.
Kirby's own report, released in March, included examples of starvation and the targeting of religious believers.