UNITED NATIONS, United States — The European Union and Japan asked the United Nations on Tuesday to condemn North Korea for gross human rights violations, drawing a link between severe hunger endured by North Koreans and Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programmes.
After the death of US student Otto Warmbier, a draft resolution also said North Korea must provide detained foreign nationals with access to consular services and allow them to communicate with their families.
The measure was presented to the General Assembly’s human rights committee which is expected to vote on the text in the coming weeks.
North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test this year and test-fired a series of advanced missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, even as 18 million North Koreans, or 70 per cent of the population, are struggling with food shortages.
The draft resolution condemns North Korea "for diverting its resources into pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles over the welfare of its people," according to the draft text obtained by AFP.
Over half of North Korea’s population face food shortages and nearly a quarter suffer chronic malnutrition, according to UN findings cited in the proposed measure.
The draft resolution "condemns the long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights" in North Korea, and said those violations have led to severe hunger and malnutrition.
It expresses "very serious concerns" that Pyongyang has carried out torture, summary executions, arbitrary detention and abductions of foreign nationals within and outside its territory.
Warmbier, a 22-year-old student, died in June just days after he was released by Pyongyang and sent home in a coma following his arrest in January 2016 while visiting the North as a tourist.
His parents have said their son showed signs of torture, including teeth that appeared to have been "rearranged," and hands and feet that were disfigured.
In February, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-Nam, was killed with the poisonous nerve agent VS while waiting a crowded airport in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.
The draft resolution recalled that all UN member-states are barred from providing work permits to North Korean nationals in line with a Security Council resolution.
It also expressed concern that reunions of separated families on the Korean peninsula have been suspended since October 2015. — AFP