UN expert slams North Korea’s ‘grim’ rights record

March 17th, 2009 - 1:37 am ICT by IANS  

Geneva, March 17 (DPA) North Korea’s implementation of human rights was “grim” and the situation remains “dire and desperate”, a special UN expert on the isolated country said Monday, calling for immediate policy changes to ameliorate food shortages.
Some 8.7 million people, of an estimated population of 23 million, were deemed to be food insecure, UN studies have shown, but only 1.8 million were receiving food assistance, mostly through the World Food Programme.

In his report, Vitit Muntarbhorn, a Thai expert on human rights law, said the “unconscionable developments” in regards to the food situation and the government crack down on agricultural traders and small growers are making people more dependant on a state-run system which has failed to meet the needs of the population.

“Even the cost of making kimchi, the pickled cabbage which helps to sustain people throughout the year given the lack of meat and other staples, is now rising, threatening an essential nutrient of the local diet,” wrote Muntarbhorn.

Addressing the 10th session of the UN’s Human Rights Council, the expert also listed severe human rights violations by the state in regard to personal security, torture, prison conditions and collective punishment.

Muntarbhorn also said the state controlled all media, blocked all access to foreign broadcasts, books and videos and inhibited political dissent and religious freedoms. Attempts to circumvent these restrictions could result in severe punishments, including

forced labour.

“The tragedy of the country is that those at the top seek to survive at the expense and to the detriment of the majority of the population,” said the expert in his report.

The country’s food crisis is said to have been caused by a mix of natural disasters and poor governmental policy.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |