North Korea says proud of its human rights record

UNITED NATIONS Sat Nov 3, 2012 6:48am IST

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - North Korea's U.N. delegation declared on Friday that it was proud of Pyongyang's social system and human rights record and rejected as baseless a U.N. monitor's report that described appalling human rights abuses in the reclusive country.

Pyongyang was reacting to a report to the U.N. General Assembly's Third Committee, which focuses on rights issues, from U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea Marzuki Darusman that described "a wide range of human rights violations."

Among the abuses Darusman referred to in his annual report on North Korea were the alleged "extensive use of political prison camps, poor prison conditions and prisoners being subjected to forced labor, torture and corporal punishment."

North Korean delegate Kim Song read a statement to the committee, which includes all 193 U.N. member states, that said: "My delegation totally and categorically rejects the ... groundless allegations."

"The report of the special rapporteur is a product of the hostile policies of the United States and European Union against the DPRK (North Korea) and is a typical example of politicization, double standards and selectivity on the issue of human rights," Kim said.

Darusman complained that North Korea had refused to cooperate with him during his assessment of the human rights situation in the impoverished nation. He also said there had been "no improvement in the dire situation of human rights" in North Korea since his last report in March.

Pyongyang's delegate said North Korea had previously cooperated with U.N. and European Union human rights bodies but stopped doing so in 2006 after the EU began sponsoring annual General Assembly resolutions condemning Pyongyang for its rights record.

"We have nothing to hide," Kim said. "We have nothing to be afraid of. On the contrary, we are proud of our superior system of promoting and protecting human rights in our country, including free medical care and free education system."

"We will further develop and strengthen our social system that guarantees promotion and protection of human rights," he added.

'BIG MISTAKE'

U.S., Japanese, EU and other delegations gave statements criticizing Pyongyang's rights record. Darusman reiterated his concerns about North Korean prison camps, which he told the committee held between 150,000 and 200,000 prisoners.

China and other countries complained about the practice of adopting General Assembly resolutions that single out countries for their records on human rights.

The North Korean envoy said Darusman's allegations were based on "distortions and falsity."

"We neither recognize nor accept the mandate of the special rapporteur appointed by a resolution against the DPRK," Kim said. "This is our principled position and it will not change in the future."

"It is a big mistake if certain countries expect any change from DPRK through political pressure," he added. "We remain consistent in our peaceful position to solve all problems through negotiation and dialogue."

The assembly's Third Committee is expected to pass a resolution condemning the rights situation in North Korea later this month, to be followed by formal adoption in the General Assembly in December. Such resolutions are an annual U.N. ritual for North Korea, Iran and Myanmar.

The Third Committee is also expected to pass a resolution condemning the human rights situation in Syria due to the 19-month conflict between government forces and rebels there. The General Assembly passed such a resolution on Syria last year. (Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Jackie Frank)

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