UN rights council must hold N. Korea to account: EU

Updated 28 February 2013
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UN rights council must hold N. Korea to account: EU

GENEVA: The UN's top human rights body must call North Korea to account over systematic abuses inflicted by the secretive regime on its people, the European Union said yesterday.
“For too long, the population of the country has been subjected to widespread and systematic human rights violations and abuses,” Ireland's Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, whose country is at the helm of the EU, told a session of the UN Human Rights Council.
“For too long, the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has persistently refused to cooperate with the Human Rights Council,” he said.
He said it was time for “increased international scrutiny” of the country's record.
Together with Japan, the 27-nation EU is preparing to submit a resolution to the council calling for an in-depth probe of the situation in North Korea.
Addressing the council on Tuesday, Japan's vice foreign minister Toshiko Abe qualified North Korea's record as “dire.”
Gilmore hammered home the message yesterday.
“The EU is alarmed by the recurring reports of torture, summary executions, rape and other patterns of human rights violations in the country and especially in the prison camps where reportedly 200,000 people are being held,” he said.
“There must be an investigation,” he added.
Last month, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay decried the “deplorable” situation in North Korea, saying a commission of inquiry was “long overdue.”

North Korea blames US for tension
North Korea meanwhile accused the United States yesterday of contributing to an “unpredictable” situation on the divided Korean peninsula and abusing its power in the UN Security Council to impose its “hostile policy” against Pyongyang.
North Korea is facing further UN sanctions for its underground nuclear test explosion two weeks ago, its biggest and most powerful to date which prompted warnings from Washington. In December it launched a long-range rocket.
“The US is to blame for the situation on the Korean peninsula which is inching close to an unpredictable phase now,” So Se Pyong, North Korea's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament.


Murder of teenage Indian maid sparks calls for tougher laws urgently

Updated 10 min 7 sec ago
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Murder of teenage Indian maid sparks calls for tougher laws urgently

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The murder of a teenage maid in India triggered calls on Monday for the government to urgently pass laws to curb trafficking and update legislation that lets children work as domestic help.
Police said the 16-year-old girl from eastern Jharkhand state was strangled and her body chopped up and dumped in a drain earlier this month after she demanded a year's unpaid salary from the employment agency that hired her.
A man, who worked at the agency that brings girls from poor families in rural areas to work in Delhi, was arrested late last week, senior Delhi police officer Rajender Singh Sagar told reporters.
"How can we allow our little daughters to be brutally killed after trafficking and exploitation? Where is the rule of law?" Indian Nobel laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi said on Twitter.
The case has put the spotlight on the abuse of domestic servants in India where millions of people, including children trafficked from remote and impoverished states, toil for long hours in homes with little freedom or protection.
Satyarthi urged the government to pass India's new anti-trafficking bill, that was cleared by cabinet in February but has not been tabled in parliament yet, and called for the enactment of another bill to regulate employment agencies.
With stringent punishment for traffickers and quick relief for victims, campaigners believe the anti-trafficking law will result in more arrests and convictions.
About 60 percent of the more than 23,000 trafficking victims rescued in India in 2016 were children, government data shows.
Campaigners have blamed the dilution of the country's child labour act for more children being trafficked for domestic work.
India's parliament approved a controversial law in 2016 allowing children to work for family businesses, despite widespread concern that it would push more of them into labor.
Anti-trafficking charity Shakti Vahini demanded a rollback of amendments in the law and quick enactment of legislation to monitor unregulated employment agencies to stop them withholding salaries from workers or using violence against them.
"It is getting worse after the law was amended," Ravi Kant, founder of Shakti Vahini, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"There is no fear of law under the current child labour act."