• UN to meet next week on North Korea


    UNITED NATIONS, United States: The UN Security Council will meet next week to discuss North Korea’s rights record amid calls for Pyongyang to be referred to the international court for crimes against humanity.

    After weeks of discussion, the council set December 22 or 23 as the date for the open meeting on Pyongyang’s rights violations, said a spokesman from Chad, which holds the council’s presidency.

    The 15-member council will hear a briefing from a UN rights official. A firm date will be set once the official confirms his presence, said the spokesman.

    Ten of the 15 ambassadors at the council had been pushing for a meeting this month, but ran into strong opposition from China and Russia who argued that the matter should be dealt by the UN Human Rights Council.

    The 10 ambassadors cited the findings of a commission of inquiry report on North Korea that was released in February, and argued that Pyongyang’s rights violations posed a threat to international peace and security.

    The year-long inquiry heard testimony from North Korean exiles and documented a vast network of harsh prison camps holding up to 120,000 people along with cases of torture, summary executions and rape.

    North Korea on Monday called on the council to urgently discuss “medieval” Central Intelligence Agency interrogation methods as it sought to block the Australian-led bid to address Pyongyang’s rights record at the top UN body.

    Ambassador Ja Song Nam accused the Central Intelligence Agency of carrying out “torture crimes  worldwide in the most brutal medieval forms” and described them as “the gravest human rights violations in the world.”

    In a letter to the Chadian president of the council, the envoy said the US interrogation techniques detailed in a US report released last week should be discussed with a view to setting up a commission to investigate and prosecute those responsible.

    The UN General Assembly is due to vote later this week on a resolution that calls on the Security Council to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    The resolution was adopted by a vote of 111 to 19, with 55 abstentions by a General Assembly committee last month.

    Diplomats said however that China was likely to veto any move to refer North Korea to the ICC.



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