Send to

White House 'extremely critical' of N. Korea's human rights abuse

Feb. 19, 2014 - 08:22 By 오규욱

The White House said Tuesday it has strongly and consistently condemned North Korea's human rights violations, which were highlighted by a new U.N. panel report.

"We are extremely vocal and critical about the appalling conduct of the North Korean regime," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at a press briefing.

He was asked about the presidential office's view on a Commission of Inquiry (COI) report about human rights situations in the secretive communist nation.

After a year of investigation commissioned by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, the COI said, "Systematic, widespread and gross human-rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, its institutions and officials.

In a letter attached to the far-reaching report and addressed to North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, the commission said the issue could be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Carney said the State Department already issued the Obama administration's formal response to the report.

"But it should come as no surprise to anyone that the United States and this administration is highly critical of the conduct of human rights in North Korea and the persecution of people in North Korea," he added.

On Monday, the State Department described the U.N. report as "clearly and unequivocally" documenting the "brutal reality" of North Korea's human rights abuses.

"The COI report reflects the international community's consensus view that the human rights situation in the D.P.R.K. is among the world's worst,"  the department's deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement. She used the acronym for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also hailed the COI's report, saying it has helped make the international community pay "long-overdue" attention to the matter.

"I applaud the clear-eyed account that this report provides and the Commission's commitment to draw attention to North Korea's human rights horrors," he said in a statement.

Approximately 200,000 people are subjected to forced labor, torture, and starvation in North Korea's gulags, and it is estimated that more than 400,000 people have died in this system in the last 30 years, he added.  (Yonhap)