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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

U.N. rights panel addresses N. Korea, including abduction issue

GENEVA — A working group of the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday adopted a set of 262 recommendations on the rights situation in North Korea, including the issue of Japanese and other foreign nationals abducted by Pyongyang mainly in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

At Japan’s request, the document calls for the immediate repatriation of abduction victims and other concrete steps by North Korea toward resolving the issue at an early date.

 

Speaking at the working group’s meeting on Tuesday, North Korea’s Ambassador Han Tae Song disputed the characterization of the abduction issue and said his country rejects 63 of the recommendations outright, including those that call for the release of political prisoners and closure of re-education camps.

 

He accused some representatives of “misunderstanding and prejudices” toward North Korea, saying “their recommendations are not acceptable…as they insult the dignity of (the country) and severely distort the reality on the ground.”

 

During the main session last Thursday, Han maintained that the abduction issue had already been settled and raised the historical issue of Korean workers taken for forced labor by imperial Japan.

 

On the remaining 199 recommendations, such as those related to North Korea joining international human rights frameworks, Han said the country’s official response “will be presented in due course.”

 

Following the adoption of the draft recommendations, which reflect the views of 88 countries and regions, the Human Rights Council will take them up for consideration and possible final adoption at its regular session in September.

 

The council’s working group is dedicated to a process known as Universal Periodic Review, whereby the human rights records of all 193 U.N. member states are subjected to scrutiny on a rolling basis. Using information provided by the state itself and outside experts and bodies, the group makes non-binding recommendations and seeks commitments to work on areas of concern.

 

The process, which started in 2008 and is currently in its third cycle, previously examined North Korea in December 2009 and May 2014.

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