On Thursday at a United Nations Human Rights summit in Geneva, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) took the stand to to defend its human rights record against accusations it was committing crimes against humanity.
Western nations were predominantly concerned with highlighting North Korea’s consistently atrocious treatment of its own citizens.
Robert King, The U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rIghts issues, documenting the North Korean government’s injustices, said, “We are alarmed by the widespread use of forced labor, including child labor in detention facilities, and we remain concerned about instances of violence against women, forced abduction of foreign nationals, and reports of torture and abuse in detention facilities.”
According to UN Watch, several Western nations that spoke out against North Korea’s poor human rights record, including the US, UK, Canada, Sweden, Greece, Czech Republic, and Poland
Meanwhile, North Korea’s allies struck a different chord.
“We would like to commend North Korea’s constructive engagement in the UPR process,” said the Iranian representative.
Venezuela echoed the positive sentiments. “Despite the blockade that has been imposed on the country, North Korea has free and universal medical care and has modernized certain health and production centers,” said the Venezuelan representative.
Syria’s representative, arriving from a country in the midst of a brutal war, said of North Korea: “We would like to congratulate the realization of the right to education and the right to health.”
Ri Kyung Hun, North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly leader, said to the UN panel, “I’d like to reiterate that there is no political prison camp in our vocabulary nor prison camp in law or in practice.”
The UN body expects North Korea will respond in full on Monday and declare which recommendations it deems appropriate.
In February, a UN commission found that state-sponsored “crimes against humanity” had been committed in North Korea. The report claimed the several suspected crimes consisted of “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”