NEW: UN investigator meets North Korean officials for first time in 10 years
NEW: Special Rapporteur "unexpectedly" met with officials for about one hour
North Korea has gone on publicity blitz this month, critics say to generate goodwill
North Korean diplomat: Human rights in North Korea is fine
Under unprecedented scrutiny over its human rights record, North Korean officials met with a UN human rights investigator this week for the first time in 10 years.
Marzuki Darusman, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea, said he met “unexpectedly” with the delegation for about an hour on Monday. North Korean officials proposed the possibility of arranging a visit by human rights officials to the country.
He said they also raised concerns about the UN resolution on possible consequences against North Korea.
Darusman said the timing of the sudden meeting with the officials was “notable.”
Human rights pressure
Murder, torture, slavery, sexual violence, mass starvation – North Korea’s leaders have been accused of employing all sorts of abuses to prop up the state and exercise control over its citizens.
Citing such violations, North Korea’s human rights situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) along with the consideration of further sanctions, according to a report Darusman submitted to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
The EU and Japan have authored a draft resolution calling for similar penalties. Darusman said the UN has to come up with a way to act on the North Korea human rights violations in a coordinated way.
His comments come at a time when North Korea has gone on a publicity blitz. Its diplomats have fanned the globe in an attempt to soften its image, with its officials taking questions from journalists, speaking in public and offering talks with South Korea, Japan and the European Union. In what was viewed as a gesture of goodwill, North Korea even released detained American, Jeffrey Fowle last week.
But that didn’t appear to sway Darusman.
“I welcome these signs of increased engagement by the DPRK with the Human Rights Council and international community, and I hope they will bear fruit,” Darusman said. “But these must be premised on a more fundamental acknowledgement of the scale of the problems and must not divert from efforts to ensure the accountability of those responsible.”
North Korea has made the following overtures this month: