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Ambassador Robert King: U.S. Urges Continued UN Focus on Human Rights Situation in North Korea
March 14, 2011


Ambassador Robert King addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, March 14, 2011 (U.S. Mission Photo, Eric Bridiers)

Ambassador Robert King

U.S. Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues

Statement of the United States of America

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in

the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (Mr. Marzuki DARUSMAN)

16th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council

March, 14 2011

As prepared for delivery

The United States welcomes the report of Special Rapporteur Darusman and appreciates that his first report to the Human Rights Council is so thoughtful. It remains regrettable that the DPRK government continues to exclude the Special Rapporteur from visiting the country to fulfill his mandate to objectively observe and assess the human rights situation. While we recognize the DPRK’s participation in the Universal Periodic Review, we echo the Special Rapporteur’s disappointment that the Government of the DPRK rejected the 117 recommendations emanating from the UPR process.

The United States would like to focus on a few points of the Special Rapporteur’s report. First, the Special Rapporteur highlights the critical humanitarian situation in the DPRK and recommends that the DPRK government take significant measures to reform its national policies. He specifically recommends the DPRK increase its annual budget allocation to ameliorate the dire humanitarian situation and reform the legal structure to uphold human rights. The United States welcomes further insight from the Special Rapporteur on specific reforms the DPRK government can make to better provide for its people. We also welcome the Special Rapporteur’s views on ways to ensure the international community’s humanitarian assistance goes to the most vulnerable populations in all parts of the country and is strictly monitored in accordance with international standards.

The Special Rapporteur notes that human rights violations are committed in all correctional centers and living conditions in prison facilities are dire. The United States is deeply concerned by the reports that abuses are rampant in correctional facilities, including: forced and compulsory labor, deaths, and detention without due process. The reports of numerous political prisoner and labor camps are also of significant concern. The United States would welcome additional recommendations regarding how the DPRK could improve the situation in various detention centers and prisons and we look forward to any future reporting the Special Rapporteur may have on this topic.

Third, the United States is concerned with continued restrictions on the media and freedoms of association and expression. An active and vibrant civil society is one of the essential elements of a free nation, and we echo the Special Rapportuer’s call on the Government of the DPRK to allow space for freedoms of association and expression, access to information, and participation in government. We welcome suggestions as to how the international community can assist the DPRK in this regard.

The United States appreciates the Special Rapporteur’s concern about the abducted nationals from the Republic of Korea, Japan, and other countries and his appeal to the DPRK to urgently resolve this issue. The United States welcomes additional insight from the Special Rapporteur on ways other governments can assist in this effort.

Finally, the United States welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s creative approach to identify practical ways that the DPRK government and international community can improve conditions for the people of the DPRK, including his recommendation for the DPRK to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The United States strongly supports the work of the Special Rapporteur and urges the international community to continue to highlight the deplorable human rights violations inside the DPRK by supporting the renewal of this important mandate.