North Korea: We have the ‘most advantageous human rights system’

Story highlights

North Korea issues its own human rights report, declares it's a "superior system"

Pyongyang issued the report in response to U.N. Commission of Inquiry report

Timing of report's release could be linked to upcoming U.N. General Assembly

It makes no mention of its prison system or food shortages

CNN —  

North Korea has “the world’s most advantageous human rights system,” the country declared in a lengthy report released on Saturday.

Its political system “bestows upon (its citizens) priceless political integrity.” Its economic system “ensures people an independent and creative working life, as well as affluent and civilized living standard,” according to a report by the DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies.

The 53,000-word report – which repeats the phrase “human rights” over 700 times – paints a rosy picture of the country.

North Korea issued a vehement defense of its human rights record, in response to a damning U.N. Commission of Inquiry report, released in February. That report criticized North Korea’s authoritarian rule and said the state “terrorizes” its own citizens.

READ: In North Korea: ‘We were forced to eat grass and soil’

The U.N. Commission of Inquiry issued its conclusions after listening to testimonies from more than 100 victims, witnesses and experts regarding North Korea. It also examined satellite imagery and listed a stunning catalog of torture and widespread abuse “that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”

North Korea had declined to participate in the inquiry.

READ: ‘Abundant evidence’ of crimes against humanity in North Korea

The human rights plot

North Korea says human rights is an excuse used by the United States to interfere in its affairs. The report repeatedly takes aim at the United States, saying Washington is plotting to “eventually overthrow the social system” and also accused the Americans of invading North Korea in 1950 and starting the Korean War.

The war began in 1950 after Communist forces attacked the south.

READ: Why the Korean War Still matters

The report denies the litany of the state’s abuses saying these are “racket kicked up by the hostile forces” and derived from non-credible witnesses, who were paid to “cook up groundless stories.”

“Pyongyang frames all criticism of their human rights situation as a politicized attack from hostile forces,” said Sokeel Park, director of research and strategy at LINK (Liberty in North Korea), an international NGO that works with North Korean refugees.

North Korea’s version of its human rights report was published ahead of Tuesday’s U.N. General Assembly, where a discussion and vote on North Korea’s human rights situation is expected.

“Pyongyang knows they are increasingly diplomatically isolated and they are trying to reverse that tide,” Park told CNN. “They see the growing international consensus on the seriousness of their human rights violations as one facet of that diplomatic isolation, so it makes sense to try to counter that explicitly too.”

This includes releasing their own “human rights report” to counter the U.N. Commission of Inquiry Report,” he said.

What the report says

Divided into five chapters, North Korea says its report was derived from institutions, NGOs and human rights experts.

“The human rights mechanisms of the DPRK which have been formed and developed in the 70-year-long history is a superior system that thoroughly and practically guarantees the people’s human rights in all fields of social life including politics, economy and culture,” according to the report.

It made no mention of its prison system, executions or food shortages. Instead, the report trumpeted its policies of “universal compulsory education, free medical care and free provision of housings.”

The North Korean report also boasted its “open trial and rights of defense” – which ran contrary to the U.S. State Department’s assertion that it is not given access or details on charges for U.S. defendants held in the country.

On Sunday, Matthew Miller, a U.S. citizen, was convicted of “hostile acts” and sentenced to six years of hard labor.