GENEVA, March 24- The United Nations Human Rights Council is one step closer to holding North Korea accountable for human rights crimes according to the Human Rights Watch. The Council adopted a resolution on Friday that authorizes the use of criminal justice experts and strengthens the UN’s work to evaluate and create strategies to prosecute serious human rights violations by North Korea.
Approved by the 47 member council, the resolution was brought forth by the European Union, Japan and supported by the United States on the final day of a four-week session in Geneva. It called for North Korea to cooperate and allow access for UN investigators- which it has never done to date.
As a result of the approved resolution, the UN human rights office in Seoul will be strengthened with international criminal justice experts and work on developing a central repository for evidence.
The Seoul office’s current six staff member’s document testimony from interviews with dozens of North Korean defectors weekly, a UN official told Reuters.
According to human rights experts, this resolution is a significant warning and step towards justice for North Korean officials and institutions implicated in human rights crimes. “This not only brings North Koreans one step closer to justice for human rights crimes they have suffered, but should also make North Korean government officials think twice before inflicting more abuse,” John Fisher, the Geneva director from Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
It also stressed the importance of following up on the recommendations from the 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry report based on interviews with North Korean defectors.
The commission cited massive human rights violations including large prison camps, murders, rapes, starvations, and executions that said should be brought to the International Criminal Court.
North Korea has denounced all accusations of human rights abuses as “fabrications” and “categorically and totally rejects” the resolution. China said it “dissociated” itself from the council’s decision and called for further discussion instead.
By Diana Ng