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U.N. set to approve inquiry panel on N.K. rights abuses

The U.N. Human Rights Council is poised to adopt a resolution this week to establish its first commission of inquiry into widespread human rights violations in North Korea, a Seoul diplomatic source said Tuesday.

The U.N. council is expected to vote on the resolution on Thursday (Geneva time) during its ongoing 22nd session, which will last until Friday, and the planned commission is expected to start its activities from June, the source said on the condition of anonymity.

The inquiry mechanism resolution would be adopted if half of the 47-member council approves it. Only a few members, including Venezuela, have explicitly opposed it, according to the source.

Human rights advocacy groups have long called for international efforts to stop genocide and crimes against humanity which they claim are being systematically carried out by North Korean authorities.

Activists said North Korea was holding thousands of political prisoners in at least six facilities where they face extrajudicial executions, torture and forced labor.

Meanwhile, South Korean ruling party leader Hwang Woo-yea on Tuesday called for efforts to pass a bill aimed at improving North Korea’s human rights situation.

The bill, pushed by the ruling conservative Saenuri Party, has been pending in parliament for years due to opposition from liberal parties that fear it could anger North Korea and worsen the already-tense inter-Korean relations.

“The 19th National Assembly must pass the North Korean human rights bill that failed to pass the 18th National Assembly,” Hwang said at a forum calling for the bill’s passage. (Yonhap News)
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