Expert: Tough UN sanctions may affect North Koreans' rights

The U.N.'s independent investigator on human rights in North Korea says tough U.N. sanctions may be affecting the rights of civilians and is calling for an assessment of their impact.

Tomas Ojea Quintana told the General Assembly's human rights committee Thursday that although the sanctions are "not punitive in nature," he is concerned they may be having "a negative impact on vital economic sectors."

He pointed to several examples, saying sanctions may have prevented access to chemotherapy medicine for cancer patients and other medical supplies, and hindered shipment of wheelchairs and other items for the disabled.

Quintana said history shows sanctions can be "devastating" for civilians and "it is my conviction that a comprehensive assessment of the sanctions regime is needed ... to avoid unintended negative impact on human rights."