UN to Finally Probe N. Korea's Secret Gulags

Prison camps could amount to crimes against humanity: official
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2013 12:11 PM CDT
UN to Finally Probe N. Korea's Secret Gulags
Visitors look at North Korea through binoculars at the Unification Observation Post in Paju near the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, South Korea, Thursday, March 21, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The UN Human Rights Council has unanimously agreed to launch its first-ever investigation of human rights abuses in North Korea. An investigator urged a focus on prison camps, which "could qualify as crimes against humanity," he said. "These are camps which have the purpose of driving the people being detained there toward a slow death." The UN has evidence of some 200,000 people held in the camps, where rape, torture, and forced labor are commonplace, says its high commissioner for human rights.

North Korea's UN ambassador called the plan "full of political invective," arguing that the country boasts "one of the best systems in the world for the protections of human rights," the BBC reports. It's doubtful the UN team will be allowed to enter the country, so its probe will likely be based instead on satellite images and defector interviews. In other regional news, the US is sounding hopeful that China will cooperate on sanctions, AFP reports. "We've heard nothing but the strong intention to implement the Security Council resolution," says a US official. "We fully expect to work very cooperatively with the Chinese." (More United Nations stories.)

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