UN Honcho: We Must Investigate North Korea

Navi Pillay: Nuke worries overshadowing human-rights crisis

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 14, 2013 9:35 AM CST

(Newser) – As the world keeps a vigilant eye on North Korea's nuclear program, the country's long list of human rights violations continue to slip under the radar, charges the United Nation's human rights head. The offenses, which have shown no sign of abating under Kim Jong Un, have "no parallel anywhere in the world," says Navi Pillay, who today called for an international probe. One particular problem, per Pillay: North Korea's "elaborate network of political prison camps."

The camps, which reportedly hold some 200,000, use "torture and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment, summary executions, rape, slave labor, and forms of collective punishment that may amount to crimes against humanity," Pillay says. The government has been "allowed ... to mistreat its citizens to a degree that should be unthinkable in the 21st century." Some 40 activist organizations support the inquiry; a possible Japan-sponsored resolution at March's Human Rights Council session could launch the effort, the New York Times reports. Click for more on the horrors of North Korea's camps.

Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaks during a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012.
Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaks during a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012.   (AP photo/Keystone/Martial Trezzini)
In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's son Kim Jong Un attends a massive military parade.
In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's son Kim Jong Un attends a massive military parade.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)
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