An independent United Nations human rights expert today urged authorities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to resolve the issue of abducted Japanese citizens, saying the long-standing kidnappings were a matter of concern to the international community.
“It is incumbent upon the authorities to come out clean and settle this long-standing question of abduction and engage on wider issues of the human rights and humanitarian situation of the people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea," said Marzuki Darusman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK.
“For effective resolution of the abduction issue, international criminal liability of those responsible for the abductions cannot be ruled out. As a start, I urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to promises made during August 2008 to reinvestigate the pending cases,” Mr. Darusman said at the end his 25-28 January visit to Japan.
Of the 17 officially recognised cases of abduction of Japanese nationals by DPRK agents, only five have been returned to Japan. During his visit, Mr. Darusman met with a few of the abductees’ families and heard their painful testimonies.
“Their stories have moved me. I sympathise with them and I pledge that I will follow this matter closely and do everything possible to highlight their case, along with the wider human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, at various international fora,” he said.
Mr. Darusman said that his meetings with defectors from DPRK in Japan reinforced reports of the dire humanitarian situation and the absence of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights for the people in the Asian country.
“This underscores the need to provide humanitarian aid to the country, subject of course to proper monitoring of its distribution,” he said. “Measures need to be taken by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to ensure respect for a wide range of its citizens’ human rights,” he added.
Mr. Darusman met several high-level Japanese officials, including the ministers of foreign affairs and justice, as well as the minister in charge of abduction issues. He also conferred with national and international non-governmental organisations, diplomats and UN officials.
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cannot afford to find itself in isolation and needs to seize every opportunity to establish dialogue with the international community,” Mr. Darusman said. “I will continue to engage with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea authorities and hope they will change their course and interact with me.”