North Korean delegates appeared before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Monday for the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), defending their country against allegations of serious human rights abuses.
While officials denied allegations of human rights violations such as the use of torture and widespread malnutrition within its borders, they did acknowledge occurrences of public execution.
British daily The Independent reported on the 8th that the North Korean delegation claimed public executions take place for “very brutal and violent crimes,” claiming they are used only “in very exceptional cases,” at the demand of a victim’s relatives.
According to The Independent, North Korean ambassador Ri Tcheul denied the existence of any other human rights problems, calling accusations in the hearing “unpleasant,” and claiming that “the issue of serious malnutrition is a thing of the past.”
Ambassador Ri elaborated, stating that although economic difficulties in the 1990s had led to food security problems, the situation had improved in the past decade or so and was no longer an issue.
According to a Financial Times article on the 7th, North Korean delegates even went so far as to claim that allegations of serious abuses are untrue, and “part of a U.S. and European-led plot to destabilize the regime.”
Additionally, the Financial Times reported that North Korea refused to accept repeated requests to allow a visit from the UN human rights envoy, and “would not sign any new international treaties until the UN withdrew resolutions critical of its human rights record.”
Regarding issues of POWs and abduction, Ri stated that the POW issue was solved when the armistice was signed, and that there are no abductees in North Korea.
The UNHRC is expected to release its findings later this week, though they are rather toothless since the UN has no powers of enforcement.