UN committee condemns North Korea over widespread rights abuses

Louis Charbonneau
Reuters Middle East

* Rights committee voices concern over torture, prison camps

* North Korea says resolution is "political terrorism"

* China: Countries should worry about humanitarian aid

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 27 (Reuters) - A committee of the U.N.

General Assembly on Tuesday condemned North Korea for rampant

human rights violations, while an envoy of Pyongyang dismissed

the move as reflective of hostile U.S. policies.

The non-binding resolution was adopted by the 193-nation

assembly's Third Committee, which focuses on human rights.

It was officially passed by consensus without a vote, though

North Korea, China, Syria, Iran and other developing countries

made clear they rejected the conclusions of the resolution,

which was drafted by the European Union and co-sponsored by the

United States and a number of other Western states.

North Korean U.N. envoy Kim Song told the committee that the

resolution represented "interference in our internal affairs"

and constituted "an act of the state political terrorism."

Kim also denied that there were any rights violations in

North Korea.

"Human rights violations as mentioned in the draft

resolution cannot exist, and not only in legal and institutional

terms, but also in reality in our country," he said.

"Independent rights of our people are most valued."

The resolution voiced "very serious concern at the

persistence of continuing reports of systematic, widespread and

grave violations of civil, political, economic, social and

cultural rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

(North Korea)."

It said such violations included torture, the existence of

prison camps and limitations on the freedom of movement of North

Korean citizens, including the punishment of those who attempt

to travel abroad.

Earlier this month U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea

Marzuki Darusman reiterated his concerns about rights violations

in the reclusive country. He said that North Korean prison camps

held between 150,000 and 200,000 prisoners.

The resolution will go to a formal vote in the General

Assembly next month, where it is expected to pass again. Such

assembly resolutions on the human right situations in North

Korea, Iran, Myanmar, and, since last year, Syria are an annual


A delegate of China told the committee that it opposes

resolutions on individual nations' human rights records and

urged United Nations members to "pay more attention to

difficulties and challenges facing the DPRK (North Korea)" and

focus on humanitarian aid.

The Chinese delegate also urged "certain countries" not to

submit such resolutions in future.

North Korea is under U.N. Security Council sanctions for its

two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Jackie Frank)

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