Saturday, March 13, 2010

UN’s Vitit Muntarbhorn slams 'horrific' North Korea abuse

A UN rights expert has accused North Korea's regime of turning the country "into one big prison," saying widespread abuses by Pyongyang put it in a class of its own.

Vitit Muntarbhorn said "The human rights situation in this country can be described as 'sui generis' -- in its own category -- given the multiple particularities and anomalies that abound.” The special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea went on to say that North Korea’s ruling elite had created "a pervasive 'state of fear' or 'state as one big prison'" for the masses."Abuses against the general population for which the authorities should be responsible are both egregious and endemic."

He called on top UN bodies such as the Security Council and International Criminal Court to play a more active role in tackling the impunity of the state, potentially for crimes against humanity.

Muntarbhorn's report accused the military regime of trying "to perpetuate its survival at the cost of the people. …Practices to instill fear among the population are rampant, including public executions, torture, collective punishments and mistreatment of women and children," as well as extensive surveillance, he noted.

He also highlighted reports that the regime had tightened its grip on food distribution by prohibiting smallholders and markets. Muntarbhorn stressed that "the problem is not simply food shortage but distorted food distribution, from which the elite benefits."

[Bangkok Post]

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