Human rights still tragically violated in North Korea - 10 December 2015 [fr]
Security Council - Situation in North Korea- Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Representative of France to the United Nations - 10 December 2015
I would like to thank the Under-Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for their respective briefings. The information they presented is shocking and shows that the tragic situation of human rights in North Korea has not changed.
We are talking about ongoing systematic violations and crimes of another era — arbitrary detention, forced labour, human trafficking and extrajudicial executions. While the existence of labour camps for prisoners of conscience is already in itself intolerable to the human conscience itself, we learn that torture is practised systematically in many of those camps. The mere exercise of the freedom of opinion and expression can lead to death, including for senior officials of a regime that is destroying itself. According to a report published on 8 September by the Special Rapporteur (see A/70/362), between 2010 and 2014, 1,382 people were executed publicly for the most questionable reasons and without the slightest respect for the most basic rules of due process.
As we celebrate Human Rights Day today, I am mindful of the direct victims of those violations and of their families — victims of forced disappearances, who live in the uncertainty of the fate of their relatives. The forced disappearances are innumerable in a territory that does not allow them to be counted. The victims also extend to citizens of other countries — dozens of Japanese nationals who were abducted, perhaps more. The North Korean authorities have acknowledged their responsibility for a certain number of the forced disappearances. They must respond to the concerns of families and allow the return of the abducted persons. France lends its full support to the strategy of the Special Rapporteur and his international approach in that regard. France has also historically supported the initiative on the issue of forced disappearances. It is one of the countries at the origin of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and it commends the work that has been done by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on the issue of forced disappearances that North Korea could be responsible for.
The violations in North Korea affect all individuals, first of all dissidents and human rights defenders, but also women, children and vulnerable groups. All those who have testified, in particular before the Human Rights Council’s international commission of inquiry, describe the same terror by a regime that commits crimes as part of a State policy aimed at ensuring limitless control over an enslaved population, “trapped inside the country”, to echo one of the headings of the report (see A/70/362).
As you know, Mr. President, France is particularly committed to the fight against impunity. Beyond indignation, it is the only response that would enable justice and the rule of law to be restored. Those responsible for crimes committed in North Korea will be held accountable before the law. Some crimes committed and described by the commission of inquiry could, owing to their scope and severity, constitute crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In that regard, the recommendation by the international commission of inquiry in its report to refer the situation to the Court deserves the Council’s full attention.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has ratified several international instruments,including the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It has accepted almost half of the recommendations that were made to it during the Universal Periodic Review to which it was subjected in 2014 in Geneva at the Human Rights Council. We must ensure that those commitments are effectively implemented. Until then, we must continue to document the violations and shed light on the crimes. That is why France commends the work of the commission of inquiry. By documenting the crimes, it is preparing the work for justice. France also hopes that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Seoul will play its full role. Any threats against it or its staff are unacceptable.
France welcomes the fact that, since the holding of the meeting on this subject under the Arria Formula and the first meeting in the Security Council a year ago (see S/PV.7353), the issue of human rights in North Korea has come up regularly on the international agenda, not only in the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, but also now in the Security Council. The extent of the violations at the governmental scale, which does not have any parallel in the contemporary world, as the report says, is in itself a threat to international peace and security. A regime that places itself in a position of denial and entirely disregards the rule of law, including on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and at the same time continues to develop nuclear and missile programmes, in flagrant violation of all our resolutions, must not be allowed to continue to act ruthlessly with impunity.
That is why it is important that the Security Council, seized with the situation, remain mobilized, so that that regime hears the voice of the international community, puts an end to its violations, releases its prisoners of conscience and all those who have been abducted, and makes a firm commitment to the path of openness and respect for the rights of its people. We will make sure of this, and we will not relent in our efforts.