As Delivered by
Ambassador Robert King
Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights Issues
HRC 25 – March 17, 2014
Thank you Mr. President.
The United States commends the Commission of Inquiry’s excellent and comprehensive report to the Council, which documents the “systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations” in the DPRK.
The United States remains deeply concerned about the human rights and well-being of the people of the DPRK. We regret that the government refused to cooperate with the Commission and prevented the Commission from visiting the country to fulfill its mandate.
We strongly support the Commission’s calls for accountability and urge the Office of the High Commissioner to establish a field-based mechanism for continued monitoring and documenting human rights abuses in the DPRK, which will carry on the investigative work of the Commission and support the work of the Special Rapporteur.
The Commission’s report highlights disturbing patterns of human rights violations in nine areas, from violations of the right to life to enforced disappearances, including abductions. We are deeply troubled by the Commission’s findings that these violations and abuses may “meet the high threshold required for proof of crimes against humanity in international law.”
The Commission also found that North Koreans who are repatriated to North Korea are commonly subjected to torture, arbitrary detention and execution, forced abortion, and other forms of sexual violence. We call upon all states to respect the principle of non-refoulement and to offer protection to DPRK nationals at risk of harm.
We urge the DPRK to address the ongoing human rights violations and accept the recommendations that the Commission directed to the government. We urge the DPRK to engage directly with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and thematic special rapporteurs on how to implement its international human rights obligations and commitments.
We reiterate our position that the DPRK has a choice: it can address its human rights record and abide by its international obligations and commitments – a step that the international community would welcome – or it will face further isolation.
We welcome the Commission’s thoughts on steps the DPRK might take to begin a process of human rights reform, in particular first steps for dismantling the political prison camps. We also welcome any further suggestions on how the international community can continue to press for improvements in human rights conditions for the people of the DPRK.