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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.