'Unspeakable Atrocities' Committed In N. Korea: U.N. Probe

A U.N. panel of experts accused North Korea of crimes against humanity after a yearlong investigation revealed widespread human rights violations.
Posted at 1:25 PM, Feb 17, 2014

Summary executions, systematic rape, torture, slavery — these are just some of the horrors routinely carried out by North Korea's government against its people, according to a new report from the United Nations. 

Monday, a U.N. panel of experts accused North Korea of crimes against humanity after a yearlong investigation revealed widespread human rights violations and "unspeakable atrocities" that are "essential components" of a planned system of political control. (Via Al Jazeera)

The BBC reports: "Testimony to the panel included an account of a woman forced to drown her own baby, children imprisoned from birth and starved, and families tortured for watching a foreign soap opera."

Michael Kirby, chairman of the independent commission that conducted the investigation, says the report "calls for attention from the international community."

KIRBY: "At the end of the second world war, so many people said, 'If only we had known.' ... Now the international community does know." (Via BBC)

He went on to say there will be no excusing a failure to act and urged the U.N. to hold those responsible for the crimes accountable through a special tribunal or referral to the International Criminal Court. 

That, however, is unlikely to happen. Only the U.N. Security Council can provide referrals to the ICC, and as The Wall Street Journal explains, "China, a longtime ally of Pyongyang, holds a veto in the U.N. Security Council—enough to prevent a referral to the International Criminal Court."

Pyongyang refused to cooperate with the investigation and calls its findings a sham. 

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, did not respond to an advance copy of the report or a letter that informed him he could be held personally responsible for reported abuses. (Via CNN)

The U.N. report looks damning for the young leader, who just last year had his own uncle executed after he was convicted of plotting to overthrow the North Korean government. (Via ITN)

To make matters worse, the 372-page report shows lavish spending by Kim Jong-un — more than double that of his father, Kim Jong-il, who was infamous for spending excessively while his people starved. (Via United NationsFox News)

Next month the U.N. panel will formally present its findings to the Human Rights Council, where its recommendations for legal action will be taken into consideration.