North Korea says human rights problems don't exist

By Jennie Oh
North Korea says human rights problems don't exist
The U.N. Security Council votes to include briefing on the humanitarian situation in North Korea on its agenda on Monday. Photo by Manuel Elias/United Nations

SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- North Korea blasted international criticisms and sanctions against its human rights abuses at a U.N. Security Council meeting, insisting such problems "do not exist" in the reclusive state.

On Monday, the 15-member bloc held its fourth annual meeting on North Korea's human rights situation after a procedural vote.


Ten members voted in favor of holding the session while China, Russia and Bolivia voted against, and Egypt and Ethiopia abstained.

Showing a video report, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein shed light on "extremely widespread violations of rights in almost every aspect of people's lives."

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He said such violations have escalated in North Korea, along with tensions over its nuclear and missile tests, making restrictions on movement all the more stringent and exacerbating the already "horrific" prison condition.

Also, with available resources diverted to the military, humanitarian aid provided by the United Nations and the international committee is "literally a lifeline for some 13 million acutely vulnerable individuals."

The human rights chief, along with other U.N. officials, expressed concern that the human rights conditions have not improved despite continued pressure and sanctions from the international community.

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council the systematic violations committed by the North Korean regime do more than cause the people's suffering.

"They are a means to a single end: Keeping the Kim Jong Un regime in power," she said.

North Korean delegate Ja Song Nam rejected the accusations and pointed the finger at sanctions for the humanitarian situation.

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He blasted the meeting on Monday as a "desperate act of the hostile forces which lose the political and military confrontation with [North Korea] that has openly risen to the position of nuclear weapon state."

Ja added that if the United States or "some hostile force" believes the North can be threatened through the human rights discussion, "it is a pipedream that cannot be realized."

On Saturday, a social science institution in the North released a white paper on the state's human rights situation ahead of International Human Rights Day, Yonhap reported.

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The document said the North "most stringently defends and fulfills the democratic freedom and rights of the people," through "laws across political, economic, cultural, education and legal arenas."

It said the United Nations must respect the principals of sovereignty and self-determination, while criticizing sanctions on the regime as "an illegal act" that hinder the enjoyment of human rights.


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