- (Photo: REUTERS/KCNA)
- (Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
An extensive U.N. report released on Monday has detailed some of the "unspeakable atrocities" being committed in North Korea, including mass starvation and extermination, while leader Kim Jong Un spends money lavishly on private movie theaters and luxury cars.
"The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world," said the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the DPRK in the report.
Close to 400 pages of linked reports, supporting documents and first-hand testimonies from victims and witnesses have revealed the extent of the crimes being committed in the Pacific nation, which include "extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation."
The U.N. Commission noted that these crimes are ongoing in North Korea, and that "the policies, institutions and patterns of impunity that lie at their heart remain in place."
The report focuses closely on the deliberate mass starvation that North Koreans suffer. It noted that the deprivation of access to food is calculated to bring about the destruction of parts of the population, which amounts to extermination.
While such crimes against humanity are taking place, testimonies have revealed that Kim Jong Un's government continues spending "disproportional amounts" of resources on its military and on luxury goods for its leaders. As much as 44.8 percent of the total state budgetary expenditure for the economic development and improvement of people's living standard was reportedly spent on building edifices for the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il-sung, and other projects aimed at face-lifting the country.
An extensive list of luxury goods purchased by the North Korean government was also revealed, and included high quality cognac and whiskey worth $17,290, the construction of a 1,000-person cinema at $187,310, Mercedes-Benz vehicles, high-end musical recording equipment, and more than three dozen pianos and cosmetics.
"The fact that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea … has for decades pursued policies involving crimes that shock the conscience of humanity raises questions about the inadequacy of the response of the international community," the report says.
"The international community must accept its responsibility to protect the people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from crimes against humanity, because the Government of the DPRK has manifestly failed to do so."
North Korea has also been labeled the most oppressive country in the world for Christians and other religious groups by persecution watchdog Open Doors, which states that believers face "unimaginable pressure in every sphere of life," and live in fear of arrest, disappearance, torture, and public execution.
According to the U.N. report, the North Korean government leaves no room for criticism of its system, punishing those who dare to speak out against it.
"The key to the political system is the vast political and security apparatus that strategically uses surveillance, coercion, fear and punishment to preclude the expression of any dissent. Public executions and enforced disappearance to political prison camps serve as the ultimate means to terrorize the population into submission," the report states.
The U.N. Commission included a letter to Kim Jong Un in its report, where it said it would recommend referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court "to render accountable all those, including possibly yourself, who may be responsible for the crimes against humanity referred to in this letter and in the Commission's report."
It is also calling on the international community to adopt targeted sanctions against those responsible for these crimes.
The Commission will formally present its findings to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 17.