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North Korea's Kim warned he might face charges over atrocities

'Unspeakable Atrocities' Committed In N. Korea: U.N. Probe

(Reuters) - North Korean security chiefs and possibly even Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un himself should face international justice for ordering systematic torture, starvation and mass killings bordering on genocide, U.N. investigators said on Monday.

The investigators told Kim in a letter they were advising theUnited Nations to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC), to ensure any culprits "including possibly yourself" were held accountable.

North Korea said it "categorically and totally" rejected the investigators' report, which it called "a product of politicization of human rights on the part of EU and Japan in alliance with the U.S. hostile policy".

The unprecedented public warning and rebuke to a ruling head of state by a U.N. Commission of Inquiry is likely to complicate efforts to persuade the isolated country to rein in its nuclear weapons program and belligerent confrontations with South Korea and the West.

The U.N. investigators said they had also told Kim's main ally China that it might be "aiding and abetting crimes against humanity" by sending migrants and defectors back to North Korea, where they faced torture and execution - a charge that Chinese officials had rebutted.

As referral to the ICC is seen as a dim hope, given China's likely veto of any such move by Western powers in the U.N. Security Council, thoughts are also turning to setting up some form of special tribunal on North Korea, diplomatic and U.N. sources told Reuters.

"We've collected all the testimony and can't just stop and wait 10 years. The idea is to sustain work," said one.


Michael Kirby, chairman of the independent Commission of Inquiry, told Reuters the crimes the team had catalogued in a 372-page report were reminiscent of those committed by Nazis during World War Two.

"Some of them are strikingly similar," he said.

"Testimony was given ... in relation to the political prison camps of large numbers of people who were malnourished, who were effectively starved to death and then had to be disposed of in pots burned and then buried ... It was the duty of other prisoners in the camps to dispose of them," he said.

The independent investigators' report, the size of a telephone directory, listing atrocities including murder, torture, rape, abductions, enslavement, starvation and executions.

"The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world," it said.

The findings came out of a year-long investigation involving public testimony by defectors, including former prison camp guards, at hearings in South Korea, Japan, Britain and the United States.

Defectors included Shin Dong-hyuk, who gave harrowing accounts of his life and escape from a prison camp. As a 13-year-old, he informed a prison guard of a plot by his mother and brother to escape and both were executed, according to a book on his life called "Escape from Camp 14".

North Korea's diplomatic mission in Geneva dismissed the findings shortly before they were made public. "We will continue to strongly respond to the end to any attempt of regime-change and pressure under the pretext of 'human rights protection'," it said a statement sent to Reuters.


The abuses were mainly perpetrated by officials in structures that ultimately reported to Kim - state security, the Ministry of People's Security, the army, the judiciary and Workers' Party of Korea, according to the investigators, led by Kirby, a retired Australian chief justice.

"It is open to inference that the officials are, in some instances, acting under your personal control," Kirby wrote in the three-page letter to Kim published as part of the report.

The team recommended targeted U.N. sanctions against civil officials and military commanders suspected of the worst crimes. It did not reveal any names, but said that it had compiled a database of suspects from evidence and testimony.

Pyongyang has used food as "a means of control over the population" and "deliberate starvation" to punish political and ordinary prisoners, according to the team of 12 investigators.

Pervasive state surveillance quashed all dissent. Christians were persecuted and women faced blatant discrimination. People were sent to prison camps without hope of release.

The investigators were not able to confirm allegations of "gruesome medical testing of biological and chemical weapons" on disabled people and political prisoners, but said they wanted to investigate further.

North Korea's extermination of political prisoners over the past five decades might amount to genocide, the report said, although the legal definition of genocide normally refers to the killing of large parts of a national, ethnic or religious group.

North Korean migrants and defectors returned by China regularly faced torture, detention, summary execution and forced abortion, said the report.

Kirby warned China's charge d'affaires in Geneva Wu Haitao in a Dec 16 letter that the forced repatriations might amount to "the aiding and abetting (of) crimes against humanity", it said.

Wu, in a reply also published in the report, said that the fact that some of the illegal North Korean migrants regularly managed to get back into China after their return showed that the allegations of torture were not true.

"The DPRK (North Korea) has been looked at by the Security Council solely as a nuclear proliferation issue," Julie de Rivero of campaign group Human Rights Watch told Reuters.

"This (report) is putting human rights in the DPRK on the map, which it wasn't before, and hopefully will put the spotlight on the U.N. and international community to respond to not just the security threat," she added.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Richard T February 17 2014 at 11:28 AM

Well, I am confident that the U.S. and allies have their contingencies but how much of this regime's
psychotic behavior does the international community tolerate before actually doing something ?
Somebody spike his tea or something .. think of all the suffering it would prevent.

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1 reply
STAN THE MAN Richard T February 17 2014 at 11:42 AM

Some other ******* would take his place and China would be right there backing them up, China is the country to keep an eye on all the time.

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yakmann2 February 17 2014 at 11:31 AM

Useless U.N. has zero power might as well pack up and go home.

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tspunky726 February 17 2014 at 11:31 AM

Where is James Bond when we need him...

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tmclemore790 February 17 2014 at 2:54 PM

All the leaders in North Korea are unrational and China is not to much better in the treatment of their people. There is no fix for this problem short of a war and it is not worth it. The people of North Korea and China have been living under dictators for as long as the two have been a country. If the people of these two countries really wanted to stop what is going on, they would have by now. Who would have thought that Russia would have changed, but it did. When the people of a country get tired of how they are being treated, they will rebel and win no matter how mean the dictator is.

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2 replies
diempostdiem tmclemore790 February 17 2014 at 2:57 PM

Pretty difficult to rebel when you get shot for even thinking about it along with your entire family.

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1 reply
usapaydirt diempostdiem February 17 2014 at 3:30 PM

Interesting ! In some cultures people will remain passive and exist in a minuscule, repressed totally controlled existence, in fear of their life. In other cultures like America, it's live free or no one lives.
North Korea is what happens when people give up, and just accept what Government provides , while turning in there neighbors, family and friends, for dissenting.....

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csp2go tmclemore790 February 17 2014 at 3:00 PM

Why not fly our B-2 bombers over North Korea and drop pallets of AK-47s with ammo. Let them solve their own short, pudgy problem.

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jdvernell February 17 2014 at 11:31 AM

This little idiot needs to taken down more than a peg he needs to be taken down and the USA should NOT allow Americans to go there especially Dennis Rodman.....who in the world would call Hitler his BFF? Seriously, he makes the USA look like idiots additionally he certainly NOT a good representation of the US anyway. I would love to see THIS Kim brought down, he makes his father look good and that is a feat!

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Dr John February 17 2014 at 11:31 AM

Sadly, another over-indulged pyscho-gnome headed down the wrong path; he had such a promising role on "Two-Broke-Girls."

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elvistcb461 February 17 2014 at 2:47 PM

kill the bastards!!

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howard February 17 2014 at 2:41 PM

in my view the only State that can or might affect some change in NK is China.
if the rest of the world stopped doing business with China until this changed for good, that might be the only way to get a bigger bully to smack down a smaller bully.
.pretty dismal

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1 reply
markiesplatter86 howard February 17 2014 at 2:48 PM

Buy only Sochi.

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edwtimfor February 17 2014 at 11:32 AM

Kim better look out or the UN will send him a strongly worded memo.

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Alan February 17 2014 at 2:36 PM

Both China and North Korea are both still communist countries, naturally they will back each other. This kind of support for atrocities committed in North Korea by their government with the tacit support of China is one of the things that aggravate me personally about all the garbage the US imports from China. With the financial support US companies and citizens give China by accepting all the garbage they ship to us, toxic items and all, WE the citizens of the United States are giving China OUR tacit support as well. We buy things that can be manufactured just as easily albeit a bit more expensive in the US, why, so a bunch of stupid greedy corporate CEO's can line their pockets with dollars from American consumers that they refuse to employ, but expect them to buy their trash. What we need is a few hundred thousand demonstrators picketing the companies that import from China and tell them they are fed up, they want American customers, employ American workers! Let us all stop supporting China and it's lack of caring towards people and it's denial of basic human rights to it's own citizens.

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