UN welcomes inquiry into abuses in DPR Korea
New York, Mar 23 : A senior United Nations official has welcomed the establishment by the Human Rights Council of a commission of inquiry into alleged abuses in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), one of several decisions taken by the 47-member body as it wrapped up its current session.
"We see this as a major breakthrough, and it was good to see that it was adopted by consensus," Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva, referring to the resolution that was acted on Thursday.
High Commissioner Navi Pillay and several independent UN human rights experts had been calling for an inquiry into serious crimes that have been persistent in DPRK for decades.
Last week Pillay voiced concern that international attention focused almost exclusively on Pyongyang's nuclear programme and rocket launches, and not enough on the "deplorable" human rights situation.
"That is no longer the case now [that] the Human Rights Council has taken this very significant step of establishing a commission of inquiry," said Colville. "As the High Commissioner pointed out, the deplorable situation in DPRK in one way or another affects almost the entire population and has no parallel anywhere else in the world."
He added that the existing Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK will be one of the three members of the commission of inquiry, with the other two appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council.
The resolution on the DPRK was one of 39 texts adopted during the Council's four-week session in Geneva, which opened with a high-level segment from 25 to 28 February.
Among its other decisions, the Council - the UN's top human rights body - established the post of an independent expert on Mali, and called on the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct an independent and credible investigation into alleged human rights violations.
The Council also renewed the mandates of a number of special procedures, including the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on countering terrorism, on the right to food, on freedom of religion or belief, and on the situations of human rights in DPRK, Myanmar, Iran and Syria, as well as the Independent Expert on Haiti.
The next regular session of the Council is scheduled to be held in June.