Sunday, January 20, 2008

North Korea: Address abduction of Japanese - UN

An independent United Nations human rights expert today called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to “show a sense of responsibility urgently” in tackling the issue of abductions of Japanese citizens.

Of the 17 people officially listed as having been abducted by the DPRK, five have returned to Japan, and the DPRK states that of the remaining 12, eight have died and four never entered the country.

“Such claims remain unconvincing and unsubstantiated,” said Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, in a statement at the end of his five-day visit to Japan.

He called on the DPRK – which admitted to the abductions at a 2002 summit with Japan – to provide “tangible results and an effective response, with due respect for the safety of the abductees, to return them immediately to Japan, and to act against the impunity of those who perpetrated the crime of abductions.”

The expert voiced support for several initiatives to settle the issue peacefully based on international law, and called on the DPRK to commit to resolving the matter substantively through the bilateral track with Japan under the Six Party Talks – which also involve China, Russia, the United States and the Republic of Korea – or other channels.

During his trip, his third to Japan, Mr. Muntarbhorn sought to assess the impact of the DPRK’s human right situation on Japan, and met with the Foreign Minister and other officials, representatives of civil society and parliamentarians, among others.

His talks with the families of those who had been abducted by the DPRK were “of particular importance,” and he expressed his deep sympathy for “the pain and suffering caused by the human rights violations committed by the DPRK.”

The Special Rapporteur highlighted the international dimension of the abductions, given the increasing acknowledgment that the DPRK has abducted nationals of other countries in the past, and appealed for bolstered efforts by the international community to “ensure accountability on the issue and to influence” the nation to settle the issue quickly and effectively.

Source: UN News Centre