Kim Jong-un could be investigated for crimes against humanity after 'unspeakable atrocities' uncovered

The UN's special rapporteur on human rights said more must be done to pursue criminal accountability

Kim Jong-un must be investigated for crimes against humanity, a United Nations official has said.

Marzuki Darusman, the special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, revealed “unspeakable atrocities” from murder and abductions to enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, persecution and starvation on an unparalleled scale in the secretive state. 

He concluded that the Supreme Leader and highest levels of his government were responsible for crimes against humanity and should be held accountable.

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In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, Mr Darusman recommended that an official communication be sent directly to Kim, signed by himself or the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“[It should] advise him and other senior leaders that they may be investigated and, if found to be responsible, held accountable for crimes against humanity committed under their leadership,” Mr Darusman wrote.

His report, dated 19 January but published this week, also said three experts should be appointed to find the best legal path to hold North Korea to account and find “creative and practical” ways to establish the truth and ensure justice for victims.

While continually denying allegations of human rights violations, Pyongyang has refused Mr Darusman permission to visit North Korea for more than five years.

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South Korean demonstrators protest in Seoul after the reported test

Despite the publication of a Commission of Inquiry report into North Korea almost two years ago, he said little appears to have changed.

“Efforts to improve the human rights situation in the DPRK must continue,” Mr Darusman added.

“In addition to continuing political pressure to exhort the DPRK to improve human rights, it is also now imperative to pursue criminal responsibility of the DPRK leadership.”

He stressed the importance of using the International Criminal Court but said it was “able to handle only the uppermost leadership”.

The report, which saw UN experts meet with North Korean exiles, victims and the families of abducted Japanese citizens, will be considered by the Human Rights Council next month/

Only the UN Security Council can involve the court but North Korea’s sole ally, China, has used its veto to repeatedly reject calls to tackle human rights in North Korea.

However, the Chinese government said on Friday that it would back a resolution to make North Korea “pay the necessary price” for recent rocket launches, with the aim of bringing Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.

The Independent asked the UN whether any communication has been sent to the North Korean government but has not yet received a reply.

The warning came as the US flew four of its most advanced stealth jets over South Korea in a show of force against its neighbour.

Tensions worsened earlier this month when Pyongyang ignored repeated warnings by regional powers to fire a long-range rocket carrying what it calls an Earth observation satellite. 

Washington, Seoul and others consider the launch a prohibited test of missile technology. 

Additional reporting by AP

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