U.N. Committee Criticizes North Korea Rights Violations

A key U.N. committee expressed "very serious concern" Thursday at widespread reports of torture and other grave human rights violations in North Korea and strongly urged the government to put an end to the violations.

North Korea's deputy United Nations ambassador Pak Tok Hun rejected the resolution, calling it the result of a "political conspiracy" led by the United States against the country in an attempt to "obliterate the state and social system."

The resolution was approved by the General Assembly's human rights committee by a vote of 97-19 with 65 abstentions. It must now be approved at a plenary session of the 192-member world body, where its adoption is virtually certain.

The resolution expresses very serious concern at public executions, arbitrary detentions, limitations on freedom of movement, punishment of refugees and asylum seekers, and restrictions on freedom of speech, religion and assembly in North Korea.

It "strongly urges" the reclusive communist nation "to immediately put an end to the systematic, widespread and gravel violations of human rights" and to ensure that those responsible for violations are brought to justice before an independent judiciary.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Japan and the European Union. Pak accused the EU of acting as a surrogate for the United States and called Japan a "criminal state."

Sweden, which currently holds the EU presidency, said the General Assembly has adopted resolutions against human rights violations in North Korea since 2005, but the government has ignored them.

Pak said all attempts "to isolate and suffocate" North Korea will fail. The country's "Korean-style socialist system will be unshakable" and North Korea "will remain invincible forever," he said.

Pak accused the resolution's sponsors of "double standards" in dealing with human rights, citing the U.S. invasion of foreign states and killing of civilians, "Japan's crimes against humanity, and the racial discrimination and xenophobia rampant in the EU countries."