N. Korea rejects UN rights report as 'fabrication'
North Korean workers dig in freezing temperatures on the banks of the Yalu River at the North Korean town of Sinuiju on February 11, 2013 - by Mark Ralston
A UN report released Monday said North Korea's leaders should be brought before an international court for a litany of crimes against humanity.
The report by the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea found "systemic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed" by North Korea, its institutions and officials.
"The so-called Commission of Inquiry was deceitfully put together last year by the United States and its cronies... and we've never acknowledged even its existence", a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said.
"The so-called report by the puppet commission is a ragtag of cooked-up materials fed by hostile forces, criminals who escaped punishment in the country and other tramps. We categorically reject it", he was quoted as saying by KCNA.
The spokesman condemned as "far-fetched" the assertion that North Korea's leaders should be brought before an international court for a litany of crimes against humanity that include exterminating, starving and enslaving its population.
"This is an extremely dangerous, politically-motivated provocation aimed to undermine our regime", the spokesman said.
He also accused the United States of being "the worst human rights abuser who killed innocent people through aggression and intervention, and systematically committed illegal wire-tapping and surveillance not only over its own citizens but those of other countries".
- 'Murder, enslavement, torture' -
The hard-hitting, 400-page report detailed "extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence" in the nuclear-armed totalitarian state.
It included shocking testimony from North Koreans who escaped and highlighted "the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation".
The commission was created in March 2013 by the UN Human Rights Council. Its chair Michael Kirby said on Monday that ignorance was no longer an excuse for a failure to act.
Denied access to North Korea, the commission held hearings in South Korea and Japan with 320 North Korean exiles.
A frustrated Kirby wrote to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un -- the third ruler of the communist dynasty founded by his grandfather in 1948 -- on January 20, asking him to put his side.
Kirby told Kim that any North Korean official who "commits, orders, solicits or aids and abets crimes against humanity" is responsible and must be held accountable.
Pressed by reporters, he did not accuse Kim directly, but said that "everything comes together through the supreme leader," and that the total number of perpetrators could be in the hundreds.
The United States welcomed the report, saying it "clearly and unequivocally documents the brutal reality" of North Korea's abuses, while Seoul said it hoped the findings would raise international awareness.
But Pyongyang's key ally China strongly opposed any move to refer North Korea's leadership to the ICC, saying it would "not help resolve the human rights situation".
Kirby said there was "no doubt" Chinese action was needed for a breakthrough, expressing the hope Beijing would see its abusive neighbour was "a danger to itself and its region."
North Korea has long faced international sanctions over its atomic weapons programme, but activists said justice for its rights record was long overdue.
The report condemned a system of throwing generations of the same family into prison camps under guilt-by-association rules, given testimony from former guards, inmates and neighbours.
It estimated that there are 80,000-120,000 political prisoners in North Korea, a nation of 24 million people.
Hundreds of thousands of others are believed to have perished in the camps over the past half century, "gradually eliminated through deliberate starvation, forced labour, executions, torture," the report said.
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