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'Crimes against humanity' in North Korea under discussion at UN


(Vatican Radio) A report cataloguing widespread torture, murder and mass starvation in North Korea is under discussion at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this week. The report, issued by a UN Commission of Enquiry on human rights in the country officially called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is based on testimony from several hundred survivors who managed to escape from prison camps in the isolated nation. The government in Pyongyang has rejected the findings of the report, which will also be referred to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of North Korean leaders on charges of crimes against humanity.

Ben Rogers is in charge of the East Asian region for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a UK based group campaigning for religious freedom and human rights around the globe. He visited North Korea in 2010 but he tells Philippa Hitchen the situation in the country has deteriorated significantly since then, under the leadership of the young Kim Jong-un:

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"Yes, I think all the indicators are that it is worsening.....if he can execute his own uncle, you can imagine what he's doing to ordinary people....there's also evidence of a real tightening up on the border, stopping North Koreans escaping from the country into China...

I would be surprised if (Pope Francis during his visit to South Korea) didn't make some reference to peace and justice....I hope that he will speak out about the suffering of people in North Korea, including the intense persecution of Christians...and that he'll help shine a spotlight on these issues...

We would like to see a groundswell of public opinion of the kind we saw over apartheid and if we have that, I think we will one day see some change.....Because it's the most isolated country in the world, I think we need to use every tool available to us, of course pressure....also accountability....but I'm also an advocate of critical engagement....and breaking the information blocade...."