A special U.N. panel looking into North Korea's human rights abuses said Monday it will hold public hearings here next week to be attended by several experts.
The two-day session from Wednesday is part of efforts by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) to gather information from witnesses addressing human rights violations alleged to have occurred in the secretive North.
The three-member body, led by retired Australian Judge Michael Kirby, conducted similar events in Seoul and Tokyo in August, followed by a session in London this week.
The hearings provide an important opportunity for witnesses to share information aimed at raising international awareness of the human rights situation in the North, according to the COI.
Pyongyang has denied requests for an on-site investigation by the team.
"Although we do not have direct access to the DPRK (North Korea), we are still able to gather vital information from individuals who have bravely come forward to tell their stories,"
Kirby said in a press release. “These hearings, which are transparent and conducted impartially, will hopefully sharpen the focus and spotlight on the situation in the country.”
Those who will testify in the Washington hearings include Joe Bermudez, a renowned expert on North Korean defense and intelligence affairs, Roberta Cohen, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Jared Genser, a former fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, and David Hawk, a long-time human rights advocate.
The commission was established in March under a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution for a one-year probe into North Korea's human rights record. (Yonhap News)