Conditions in North Korea’s prison camps have been compared to those discovered in Nazi jails after the Second World War in a new UN report.
The head of the independent inquiry says inmates suffered starvation and torture and described “unspeakable atrocities”.
“The individual testimonies emerging from the public hearing of which these are just instances, do not represent isolated cases. They are representative of large scale patterns that may constitute systematic and gross violations of human rights,” said chair of the inquiry Michael Kirby.
But Pyongyang has rejected the allegations and dismissed the inquiry as a “political plot” to force regime change.
North Korean diplomat Kim Yong Ho said: “My delegation totally rejects this update by the so-called Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The oral update is another copy of faked materials on the situation of human rights in my country.”
The preliminary findings are based on testimony
from dozens of North Korean exiles given at public hearings in Seoul and Tokyo last month.
The UN set up the inquiry into reports of abuses in March, following pressure by Japan, South Korea and Western powers to begin building a case for possible criminal prosecution.
The report did not say what kind of prosecution might be considered. North Korea is not a member of the International Criminal Court, but the UN Security Council can ask the Hague-based court to investigate alleged abuses by non-signatories.