UN expert hopes States can persuade North Korea to change direction during Geneva #peer review

General Press Releases Thursday May 9, 2019 11:30
Bangkok--9 May--OHCHR-Bangkok

GENEVA/SEOUL – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has expressed hope that the UN's 'peer review' process will persuade authorities in North Korea to change direction and to prioritise improving the lives of ordinary citizens.

"This is a rare opportunity for States to directly engage with the DPRK Government on human rights issues,' said Tomas Ojea Quintana, referring to the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the DPRK on 9 May in Geneva.

Under the UPR, the human rights situation of all UN Member States is reviewed every five years by the 47 members of the Human Rights Council. This is the third such review of North Korea.

"The UN human rights mechanisms are an integrated system, and will follow up on implementation of the recommendations made through the Universal Periodic Review. To this end, access to a country that continues to be closed to any scrutiny remains crucial, and I trust that members of the Council make this point clear enough.

"I also encourage States to raise the issue of political prison camps," said Ojea Quintana. "North Korean citizens live in fear of being sent to political prison camps, only for exercising their fundamental rights. Such a way of living is contrary to the fundamental right to live in dignity, and should never be tolerated."

Although the Government of the DPRK denies the existence of the political prisons, information gathered indicates that citizens of North Korea fear being sent to these prisons for any act perceived critical of the authorities.

"I hope that the Government of the DPRK and reviewing States put the ordinary North Korean's lives at the heart and openly discuss how to improve their daily life," the UN expert said.

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