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U.N. discloses thousands of files related to North Korea human rights abuses

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it is working with civil society organizations in South Korea to collect evidence of human rights violations in North Korea. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it is working with civil society organizations in South Korea to collect evidence of human rights violations in North Korea. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

June 16 (UPI) -- The United Nations has a record of more than 3,830 files of North Korea-related human rights violations and is maintaining an electronic archive for future legal reference.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in its annual report that it had added thousands of new "distinct files," including interviews, reports, petition letters, satellite imagery, court documents, videos and audio recordings, to its electronic archive, Voice of America's Korean service reported Wednesday.

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The U.N. agency said it is working with civil society organizations in South Korea to collect evidence. One human rights advocacy group not identified by name submitted 748 requests for investigation into various North Korea-related rights abuses, the report said.

The human rights office also revealed it is working with activists on the issue.

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The agency "provided select [Civil Society Organizations] with technical advice on investigation standards for international crimes. Assistance and advice were offered to CSOs and victims' groups," the agency said.

North Korean defectors in the South may have played a critical role in information gathering.

"OHCHR engaged with [North Korean] escapees who have contacts inside [North Korea] to receive up-to-date information on the human rights situation in light of COVID-19," the U.N. agency said.

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The agency said it organized training for 12 North Korean escapees on interviewing and documenting human rights violations.

"These initiatives strengthened the office's engagement with the North Korean escapees and support," the statement said.

The agency also disclosed information was shared with the South Korean government. Seoul operates a Center for North Korean Human Rights Records, under the unification ministry.

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The human rights situation in North Korea has not improved since Kim Jong Un assumed power, according to U.N. reports.

U.N Special Rapporteur on North Korean Human Rights Tomás Ojea Quintana said in March the regime has allowed death by starvation during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Radio Free Asia.

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