Published : 2013-02-28 10:43
Updated : 2013-02-28 10:43
South Korea expressed its official support for a move by the U.N.'s top human rights body to set up its first in-depth investigation into widespread human rights violations in North Korea, a Seoul official said Thursday.
Kim Bong-hyun, Seoul's deputy foreign minister for global affairs, told the 22nd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva that South Korea will "actively" support a resolution by the European Union that calls for the U.N. council to begin the in-depth investigation of human rights violations in North Korea.
The resolution is one of several that has been the subject of debate during the ongoing 22nd session of the U.N. council, which will last until March 22.
The resolution would be adopted if half of the 47-member council approves it, and Seoul diplomats said prospects for a passage are high. South Korea is one of the council members.
In a keynote speech during the session, Kim said, "The situation in the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea has continued to deteriorate and the High Commissioner recently urged the international community to take stronger action by raising the need for an international inquiry into the human rights situation in this country."
South Korea "remained concerned about abductees and prisoners from the Korean War and about asylum seekers and refugees from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, who needed help in their pursuit of new lives," Kim said.
Human rights advocacy groups have long called for international efforts to stop genocide and crimes against humanity, which they claim are being systematically carried out by North Korean authorities.
Activists said North Korea was holding thousands of political prisoners in at least six facilities where they face extrajudicial executions, torture and forced labor.
The communist country has been accused of human rights abuses for decades, including subjecting hundreds of thousands of political prisoners to torture and public executions. Pyongyang has flatly denied the accusations, calling them a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.
The U.N. council's move comes as tensions on the Korean Peninsula are heightened after the North's Feb. 12 nuclear test.
South Korea, the U.S. and others are pushing for more sanctions against North Korea, while Pyongyang has threatened to take unspecified retaliatory steps against such sanctions.
In his speech, Kim also urged "an immediate end to all violence in Syria and expressed hope that the Syrian-led inclusive transition process would begin without delay." (Yonhap News)