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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un waves to the people during a parade in Pyongyang.
Reuters/ Jason Lee
Kim Jong-un has been accused of leading a repressive regime.
TRUE FREEDOM?

North Korea insists it has a good human rights record, UN unconvinced

By Olivia Goldhill

A United Nations inquiry found that North Korea’s human rights abuses include murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, and rape, while Amnesty International says that the country is “in a category of its own when it comes to human rights violations”.

But the totalitarian government has hit back at the UN for planning to discuss Pyongyang’s human rights record and argues that the country guarantees “true freedom and rights” to its people.

“Hostile powers are planning to have a go at criticizing [North Korea] during the 30th regular session of the Human Rights Council,” a foreign ministry spokesman said on Korean Central News Agency, according to reports from United Press International. “The evidence is nothing more than lies from North Korean defectors, whose testimonies cannot be corroborated,” he added.

The UN plans to discuss North Korea’s human rights record on September 21, but North Korea’s spokesman said the measure is “a political manoeuvre aimed at overthrowing our regime.”

In June, the UN opened an office in Seoul, South Korea, to monitor North Korea’s human rights record. In response, Pyongyang threatened “toughest counteractions” to this “grave provocation.”

The United Nations report on North Korean human rights abuses, published last year, included details of starvation, killings, and huge prison camps holding up to 120,000 people.

Based on the report, the UN General Assembly called on the Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court.