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Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

Asia

N Korea threatens to halt cooperation on human rights

AFP | Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

SEOUL - North Korea warned Thursday it would stop engaging with the international community on human rights issues if a resolution is presented to the United Nations requesting Pyongyang be referred to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution.

A draft resolution is to be presented by the EU and Japan to the UN General Assembly later this week that is expected to harshly condemn rights abuses in North Korea, based on the findings of a recent UN report.

In the past, the totalitarian regime had refused to discuss rights issue, but in recent weeks has held rare UN briefings, ostensibly in a bid to growing global criticism.

On Monday officials held a meeting with Marzuki Darusman - its first with a UN rights investigator in 10 years, during they offered to invite UN envoys to visit, while earlier this month North Korea gave another briefing denying the existence of prison camps in the country.

However following the talks, Darusman on Tuesday urged the General Assembly to refer a damning UN report against the totalitarian regime to the ICC for possible charges of crimes against humanity.

In response, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman Thursday warned there would be no further dialogue and cooperation on human rights "if the EU adopts an anti-DPRK (North Korea) 'human rights resolution' harsher than the previous one".

"An opportunity of engaging the DPRK over the human rights issue will be missed for good and this will (have) unpredictable consequences," he said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The spokesman said Pyongyang had taken "a magnanimous stand to positively take into consideration the issue of conducting human rights dialogue".

Darusman said on Tuesday it was time for the global community to challenge North Korea on a whole "new level" by pursuing war crimes charges against Pyongyang.

The UN report, which was released in March and compiled from the testimony from North Korean laid bare the brutality of the Pyongyang regime, detailing cases of "extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence".

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