The first United Nations commission on human rights abuses in North Korea began its official investigation by interviewing defectors in South Korea, sources said Wednesday.
The sources at Free the NK Gulag said officials from the United Nations Commission of Inquiry for North Korea carried out interviews with people who escaped from the communist country.
It said the two officials met eight people from Tuesday onwards and received testimonies that they had been personally subjected to human rights abuses or witnessed such acts being performed on others. The COI investigators from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees are expected to meet with defectors until Aug. 7.
There are some 25,000 North Korean escapees living in the South who can provide firsthand accounts of conditions in the country.
A source at the defectors group said besides the interviews, three other researchers from the UN commission will arrive in the country next month and hold a four-day hearing on human rights conditions.
They will examine claims of abuses carried out in political prison camps and other abuses of North Koreans by the state. They will also determine discrimination between genders, suppression of freedom of speech and movement restrictions, as well as other basic human rights violations.
The COI plans to submit an interim report on human rights conditions in the North to the UNHCR and the U.N. General Assembly in September and October, respectively, while it will forward a final report in March 2014, which would allow the international community to gain a comprehensive glimpse into conditions in the isolationist country. (Yonhap News)